Cold Sore
August 21, 2009 9:49 AM   Subscribe

Medicalfilter: I kissed someone with a cold sore. Do i now have herpes?

What can i do right now to prevent the virus from potentially incubating? It was in the scab stage if that matters at all.
posted by freddymetz to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
If you got infected, a while back I read that if you minimize the first ("primary") infection then subsequent outbreaks can be milder and less frequent. With that in mind, I'd douse your lips with Abreva and get yourself some Valtrex. I think the recommendation is a gram twice a day for a few days to help minimize an outbreak. Valtrex is expensive w/o insurance, FYI.

They also have blood tests to see if you have antibodies for HSV1 and HSV2, and to see if you've had a recent exposure or if you've had it for a long time.
posted by lorrer at 9:55 AM on August 21, 2009

Oh and if it was really recent, soap & water - just don't scrub your lips too hard. IANAD.
posted by lorrer at 9:58 AM on August 21, 2009

There was a deleted comment that was actually accurate and potentially helpful:

You probably already have herpes.

(And thus nothing additional to worry about).

Infection rates for oral herpes in the US are somewhere between 70 and 90% of the population. I don't know what the stats are in Germany, but I imagine they're not wholly dissimilar.
posted by dersins at 10:41 AM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Its plausible, but thus far i have never had symptoms..
if i have it already and it hasnt shown, then im guess im one of the lucky ones with a great immune system.

This question is about the theoretical case that this was a first time infection though!
posted by freddymetz at 11:12 AM on August 21, 2009

A) You may have already had herpes--that's the statistical likelihood.

B) If you didn't have it before, you may not have become infected by this encounter. The transmission rate of herpes is not 100%.

C) You can't "prevent the virus from incubating"--if you're infected, you're infected. The prophylactic treatment regime lorrer refers to isn't designed to resolve infection, but to keep the symptoms minimal.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:28 AM on August 21, 2009

It's possible but the highly infectious period is when the blisters are forming and subsequently turning into scabs.
posted by zeoslap at 12:43 PM on August 21, 2009

Cold sore or aphthous ulcer? Not the same thing.
posted by gramcracker at 1:38 PM on August 21, 2009

If it was a cold sore and you develop symptoms, run out to the store and get yourself some OTC Abbreva right away.

If it was a canker sore then you don't have anything to worry about because those are not infectious. Canker sores are inside the mouth, generally, and cold sores on the outside. This article has a good description of the difference.
posted by selfmedicating at 1:40 PM on August 21, 2009

it was on the outside and didnt look like a canker sore
posted by freddymetz at 2:12 PM on August 21, 2009

Its plausible, but thus far i have never had symptoms..
if i have it already and it hasnt shown, then im guess im one of the lucky ones with a great immune system.

Actually, it's possible that the people showing symptoms have the better immune systems. If you are asymptomatic, it may mean that your immune system successfully fought off the virus. It may also mean that the virus was so successful in making a home for itself that your immune system can't see it at all. HSV-1's "goal" is to remain hidden in your nervous system with sporadic asymptomatic shedding of virus, unless the host is under some type of stress that activates a "Oh shit my meal ticket may be dying, must escape" response. A stressful event (e.g. divorce) can trigger one-time blisters in people who otherwise have no symptoms at all for the rest of their lives.

A virus which only transmits when large visible blisters are present is much less likely to transmit than a virus that can transmit without visible symptoms.

So in any case, it's much more likely that you got HSV-1 at the age of 8 from your kiss-happy Aunt Lucy than you did from this guy/girl. If so, it has set up shop in your trigeminal ganglia already and will emerge when it wants to.

Aciclovir or Valtrex will work as a prophylaxis for HSV-1 and both are fairly safe, if you're still paranoid about your exposure.
posted by benzenedream at 7:21 PM on August 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

As mentioned above, you almost definitely already have herpes. Most people get it from their parents kissing them goodnight as kids. Its the luck of the health draw whether you get ongoing outbreaks or not.
posted by serazin at 8:29 PM on August 21, 2009

In case you don't know that there are two forms of the herpes virus, 1 and 2, here is a page explaining the difference between them.
posted by Cygnet at 5:40 AM on August 22, 2009

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