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Chance of getting HSV through a peck from person with cold sore

Resolved Question:

Someone with a visible cold sore on their lower lip gave me a kiss on my cheekbone. I did not touch or wipe it, but I also was not able to wash it off immediately. I am overall a healthy male adult, no history of HSV. So assuming I haven't contracted it before without knowing, how likely in this scenario am I to contract it?

Category: Family Physician-GP

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Category: HIV- AIDS Specialist
 29 Doctors Online

Less likely, but possible.

A visible cold sore may or may not be an ‘active’ cold sore. The chance of transmission is high if the lesion is active and shedding virus. Unfortunately there is no easy way to know this. Let’s assume the worst case scenario (that the lesion was active) still you have less chance of contracting it because the kiss was on the cheeks. Herpes transmission is high through mucous membrane and abraded skin, and less through intact skin.
Now let’s assume you contracted the virus, even then it is highly likely that you already had the virus in your system (Around 50-60% adults are seropositive for HSV). Even if you had contracted the virus, chances are that it will never manifest (and you will join in the 50-60% seropositive pool).
So putting all these together – it is indeed less likely that you had contacted HSV and very less likely that you will ever manifest cold sore.

Hope this helps
Please feel free to ask followup questions.
Thank you.

Dr. Jaydeep Tripathy
Category: HIV- AIDS Specialist
MBBS from Sri Ramachandra University in December 2011
M.Med (Family Medicine) - TNMGR University, Chennai
MBA-MPH in Public Health in March 2016, SRM University
Finished AFIH in March 2016, SRM University
MRCP ( UK ), Internal Medicine, Royal College of Physicians, June 2016
Fellowship in Diabetology from Martin Luther University in January 2017

Currently Resident Physician, in MD Radiodiagnosis - Kamakshi Memorial Hospital, Chennai
Dr. Jaydeep Tripathy and 4 other Medical Specialists are ready to help you

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