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Got herpes (whitlow) hsv1 on my finger...how long will this last? How contagious?


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Okay, so day 14 of first herpes outbreak. After a week of increasingly excruciating pain I finally went to the doc, who visually diagnosed it as herpes, and gave me a swab test. However, I was in denial and was convinced the 100 or so blisters in my underwear region was too extreme to be herpes, and was just a bad case of infected ingrown hairs resulting from the rough sex I had the previous weekend.

Up until that point, I had been ignoring the fact that a pretty much entirely healed burn on my pinky, suddenly was becoming red and blowing back up into a blister. 3 days after the doc, it was huge, red, and very painful...and after some research...I learned about "Herpes Whitlow". Around this time, I began experiencing some pain under my fingernail on my middle finger as well..which later grew increasingly red and painful.

A couple days later the swab tests results came in that I had GHSV-1.

Apparently, if you touch a herpes sore, it can get into a cut on your finger or under the nail, and cause Herpes Whitlow...which is basically a herpes outbreak on your fingers.

I have some questions which I can't seem to find any first hand experience online.

1) Can I get a recurring outbreak of this on my fingers even if I don't get one on my genitals?

2) How long will this last? I was put on valtrax the same day as the visual diagnosis, and the genital sores are pretty much healed and disappeared by now, but the pinky and middle finger are still red, swollen, and painful.

3) Is only the actual blister contagious? Or do I have viral shedding on the rest of my hand as well? I'm worried because I've given handshakes with this on my finger before I found out what this was.

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I was diagnosed with GHSV-1 in May 0f 2009. I also had an outbreak on my fingers.. I haven't had an outbreak until last week. I only had one sore on my genitals and no sores on my fingers. So keep positive. i went over a year and a half without an outbreak and when I did get a sore last week there was only one and it only hurt when i wiped after a pee. im not sure if we will get sores on our hands again or if it was only because our first outbreaks were so bad. I had over 25 sores that lasted 2 weeks. i couldnt work and i cried when i had to pee. eventually i just had to pee in the bath tub. I only had sex with 2 people in my life and the one who gave it to me is my boyfriend who i have been with for almost 4 years. He passes it through oral sex without a visible cold sore (he has oral herpes). My advise is to keep washing your hands and keep your area clean and dry. I did not take any medication with my outbreak last week. If im in a relationship with someone who carries the virus aswell i think i will just let my body's immune system work for itself.

Good luck

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Thanks. I'm really just scared i'm going to either pass this onto someone at work from when I already shook their hands, or my own eyes if I accidentally touch it without thinking, maybe while i'm sleeping...or if I have touched it since it got on my hands. Seems like its almost completely cleared up down below besides some minor itching occasionally, but the fingers seem to be getting worse which is discouraging since I'd think my immune system would be clearing it up by now.

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BTW...apparently if you ask about Whitlow in the chat room on this site you will be kicked out by the mods for "spreading fear to other users that the virus can be spread to other parts of the body". Yes, that was what I was told. I guess unless you are seeking support for a genital or oral outbreak, you are automatically an alarmist that should be shunned. I'm pretty sure had someone informed me I could get outbreaks on my fingers from touching the sores I would have been a bit more careful in that regard.

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  • 3 weeks later...

hey dnice21, I have hsv2 on my genitals and on my middle right finger and my palm on my right hand, u have to be careful when u have it on ur hand, cover it with a bandaid jus so it doesnt spread. Dont worry about passing it on to someone by shaking hands as i think the skin on hands is very thick and unless they also have a sore on their hand and u touch their sore with the fluid from a blister on ur hand then they wil catch it. But this is unlikely to happen. Try to remember to keep it very clean and try lysine pills and zovirax cream to stop the pain of the itch. Ive had it on my hand for 8 years and it has gotten better over time. Try to pay special attention to ur diet as certain things like nuts can trigger an ob. Yes u can get obs on ur hand and not on ur genitals, i dont know why this is the way it is but it jus is, fucked up i know but ur not alone. Btw that crap about talking about it in the chat room isnt true please feel free to talk about whitlow in the chatroom i have and never had a problem. You will find it very supportive and its a place where u can vent without being judged just remember ur not alone i have it too :)

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dnice you are out of line. This is a support group for anyone with herpies not just certain ones who are to be discriminated against and shunned. He was not being a alarmist simply stating what type of herpies he had and some questions and what he learned .

when did this message board become for only oral or gentical herpies. I was under the impression it was for all herpie suffers. I am surprised moderators allowed your answer to stand. and was not deleted by them

Btw i am sorry for the answer dnice gave you this is not at all what tghis board is about. As for your type of herpies yes if it on your finger arm etc and you touch someone it would then be spread to them but as lond as you wash yur hands apply bandages to area i am sure you will not spread ti,

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  • 2 years later...

I was just diagnosed with ghsv1 about 2 months ago. Symptoms were very minimal and after medication were Gone in about a week just 2 weeks ago i smashed my finger and then noticed some white spots on my fingertip 3 days later. Knowing what it was i went to the dr. To get an official diagnosis of whitlow. I have constantly kept a bandage to cover it bc I'm embarrassed about it. in my and my boyfriend's research we have found that unless the blisters are actually oozing its not likely to give it to someone else simply by touching them. The cdc stated that the virus can only live for 5 hours outside of the body. As for how long it should last i don't know bc this is the first whitlow ob 2nd ob of any kind. I'm taking medication for mine right now which alleviated the itching, swelling, and redness. But the blisters have never busted. I hope this may have been at least somewhat helpful. Also the dr said that while it is possible to accidentally infect yourself by scratching your eye or something it's really not very likely.

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    • sgt98
      Hey @WilsoInAus ok thank you, I will do my best to move on and stop trawling forums haha. 
    • WilsoInAus
      Hey @sgt98 but there is no feasible infection or outbreak to suppress and antivirals do not suppress an initial outbreak in any event 
    • sgt98
      Thanks @WilsoInAus I understand apologies for this but the only other thing I am worried about is that I did take a course of Famvir on day 1 as I felt like I was having an outbreak of cold sores and am worried that has suppressed the initial outbreak genitally 
    • WilsoInAus
      Hi @sgt98 it is not feasible to obtain a HSV-2 infection from receiving oral sex - only HSV-1 is feasible but you've already got that and immunity from any further infection with HSV-1. You do not need any further tests for HSV. You're feeling regret, try to forgive yourself and calm down, let the rational take over. You know the answer here and it won't be long until you believe it too.
    • WilsoInAus
      Hi @NerdP423 and welcome to the website. You raise a lot of points and I think the best way to address your concerns is add some comments at each key point. I've copied your note again below and added these comments in square brackets. I appreciate any insight (even speculation) as to what has been going on with me. I'm a 37y/o M. I last was intimate with a new partner on 2/11/2022, and a few days later started having a huge amount of discomfort in my face. [The first thing that happens though is that herpes causes lesions or at least some skin based disruption. Other symptoms are then related to the actions of the immune system responding to the virus. Without lesions, it is highly questionable that the ailment is related to herpes, yet testing is useful if you have concerns as you have done so.] About a month after that [herpes causes issues within days, if the first 'symptoms' are a month later - its extremely unlikely they are related to herpes], significant discomfort downstairs, however every test I have ever taken for HSV 1 and 2 has been negative. Here are the details: Face: Previously, some significant tingling and itching on the right side of my mouth, lips and chin (still there, but milder) [herpes does not cause general tingling and itching, it can cause a reasonably concentrated feeling of itch/throb from which a herpes lesion appears within hours]. Occasional hot flashes near my right eye, cheek and ear [herpes does not do this, it may be a immune response to something, or stress]. Sometimes it will feel like the skin is crawling on the right side of my face [herpes does not cause a general crawling sensation]. Never seen anything that looked like a traditional cold sore [that's extremely telling, even people with associated atypical symptoms will have experienced herpes lesions]. Occasionally, the left side of my face will have a momentary feeling of skin crawling, but it's so mild that I am not really worried about it. Downstairs: Thankfully, most of these are now milder than they were before. Occasional momentary pinch of pain at the base of my genitals. [herpes does not cause a general pinch feeling.] Aching pain in my boxer area (groin, leg folds) [nor this] Occasional feeling of cold in my boxer area, butt, or lower back. ( also in my shins and occasionally even my arms) [nor this] On 4/30/2022, I had been in discomfort for almost two months. I scratched an itch, noticed it hurt, and then checked - I did have an open ulcer down there. Took myself to the ER to get swabbed, came back negative. [If this was a PCR then this will be very conclusive.] Practitioner said it may come back negative because it was already open. However the lab report noted that it definitely didn't look like what you'd expect a typical first herpes outbreak to look like [how would the lab know??]. All blood tests negative so far. I had two western blots, the second one was nine months after exposure. [Two negative Westernblots!!! Many that's real convincing]. All other swabs also negative. I went to urgent care, because I know the timeliness of when the Swab is taken matters. One time, a swab was not done, because practitioner said it was folliculitis and wouldn't swab it (It was at my belt line). [Belt line is highly unlikely to relate to herpes.]   A blood test revealed I had low-ish B12 (technically in range, but at the very low end, especially for a man of my size). I had a series of B12 injections, and I am taking a B12 supplement. I am not taking any lysine or arginine at the moment. I was taking the Arganine to see if I could induce an outbreak. [This is irrelevant, there is no known linkage between herpes outbreaks and arginine/lysine intake - its a myth - and B12 infers nothing.] I think what I am asking is - has anyone here ever repeatedly tested negative over and over again over long period of time, before getting a definitive answer, be a positive test, or something else? [The answer to this is: Extremely few people with a HSV-1 infection and even more rarely HSV-2 test repeatedly negative on Westernblot and actually carry the virus. Of the cases that I know of that had delayed detection by a swab and negative blood tests in the meantime (and that's only 3-4 cases), they had some form of lesions within days of infection but did not obtain a swab for various reasons and then obtained a positive swab of a subsequent lesion with the record being 11 months later. A couple of the cases did have some 'background' symptoms they thought might be related to herpes but that isn't ascertained and some did not have any unusual symptoms at all apart from the lesions. Hence as you did not have lesions around your mouth or lips within days of the last sexual encounter as is exceptionally common for a primary oral HSV-1 infection, that pretty much rules out herpes orally as it is. The fact that you had no genital symptoms for a month also rules out genital herpes. I am not aware of anyone at all who has genuinely gone on to test positive by swab or blood in your specific circumstances. There are hundreds if not more than a thousand experiences on this website alone that are similar to yours that are truly negative for herpes I'm one of them!]  
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