Suggest treatment for herpes
Autoinoculation is rare
Hello. Thank you for writing to us
I have gone through your query and I have understood your concern
Autoinnoculation, though can happen, is not very common. In my presonal clinical experience i rarely if ever see a case of autoinnoculation.
Common sites of infection with herpes virus are either Orolabial mucosa Or Genital mucosa. This virus usually is transmited by direct oral or genital contact.
Simply touching the cold sore or genital sore is not going to autoinnoculate herpes virus on to fingers because intact skin is hardy/ keratinised and the virus cannot establish itself easily as it does in a mucosa unless the skin is compromised e.g a torn cuticle is a common site for herpetic whitlow.
Only a few well known scenarios where autoinoculation is thought to occur are worth mentioning i.e autoinnoculating one's own eye through fingers, immediately (without washing) after touching an oral herpes sore or genital herpes sore and herpetic whitlow due to thumb sucking in a child who has oro-labial herpes (constantly moistened skin of thumb is less resistent to infection as compared to dry keratinised skin). Apart from these 2 scenarios, autoinnoculation is extremely rare.
Mind you, circulating antibodies due to previous infection with herpes virus e.g cold sore or genital herpes infection, is not protective against a new infection at a different site.
Avoid touching a cold sore
Yes, you should be cautious about touching your eyes when you have a cold sore. As I said this is one of the two common scenario where autoinnoculation can happen. The best precaution would be to avoid touching cold sore as much as possible and wash your hands frequently. Another, good measure would be to treat with an antiviral as it would cut short an episode and reduce the risk of spread.
During an episode
Be careful only till an epsiode heals.
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