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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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I went out with a girl last Thursday evening and

Answered by
Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :1991

Answered : 3129 Questions

Posted on Thu, 14 Feb 2019 in Infections
Question: I went out with a girl last Thursday evening and she texted me today saying she had what she thinks is a cold sore pop up on Sunday and that she thinks I gave it to her. She says it’s gone now. I have NEVER had a cold sore before and definitely didn’t when i kissed her.

My question is, if I did have asymptomatic HSV1, could she have gotten a cold sore so quickly? And do cold sores ever last less than 4 days? She says it is gone now. I have an appointment to be tested but I am kind of freaking out.
Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 58 minutes later
Brief Answer:

Detailed Answer:
Hello and welcome,

Cold sores are patches of tiny blisters so they are not hard to diagnose visually. Most are caused by HSV1 (80% of oral herpes), but a smaller number of oral herpes are caused by HSV 2 (20%). Now here is the part that many people aren't aware of: because the virus is so contagious, most of us have been infected by at least one subtype by the time we reach adulthood. Usually as little kids. But not all of us manifest symptoms (only about half do). Being female puts a person at higher risk for having cold sores from it.

The incubation period for it (from exposure to symptoms) is about 3-6 days. So the Thursday-Sunday time period is possible. As to whether you could have spread it without having any cold sores yourself: most are spread while a person has blisters, until they completely heal over, but around 30-50% of people (estimated) can occasionally shed herpes virus while having few or no associated symptoms.

So - if you test positive, it might still be that she already had HSV1 (which would be the most likely scenario as 80-90% of adults have the virus) and you didn't "give" it to her. So it may not provide much useful information. However, if you are negative, then you know it wasn't from you.

I hope this information helps.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Vaishalee Punj
Follow up: Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 13 hours later
thanks so much for the info. I%E2%80%99ve scheduled a blood test.

everything I have read says that typically cold sores last 7-14 days. are they ever as short-lived as 3-4 days?
Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 2 hours later
Brief Answer:
I agree that is a short duration.

Detailed Answer:
I agree that 3-4 days would be a short duration for HSV 1. Usually it is around a week, and comes in stages - first some redness and tingling, then blisters, then healing of blisters. If she didn't see blisters, it likely wasn't a herpes outbreak.

But keep in mind - she may have already had the virus, even from childhood, and it came out now as a cold sore. Most of us have the virus.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Prasad

The User accepted the expert's answer

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