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HSV1 outbreaks in lips. Time to spread everywhere.

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How long after infection will it take for hsv-1 to appear in the form of a cold sore in or around my eye? I've been getting anywhere from 2-4 hsv-1 outbreaks on my lips for the last 4 years or so, and a few days ago I accidentally touched my leaking cold sore then immediately touched my eye with the same finger. I'm just wondering how long it will take to know if I've spread it to my eye? Using Google I've seen anywhere from as short as 2 days to as long as 30 days for symptoms to appear. Also what is the % chance that having the hsv-1 fluid on my finger then touching my eye will end up spreading it to my eye and causing cold sores on or around my eye and causing hsv keratitis?

Category: Infectious Disease Specialist

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Category: HIV- AIDS Specialist
 31 Doctors Online

Thank you for your query at
Yes there is a slight possibility for the infection spreading to the eye, and mostly in the form of HSV-Keratitis or corneal ulcers.
In case the infection spreads from a cold sore to the eyes, it should manifest within 7 days. If it doesn't then you can consider it as no risk.
They say 30 days, because in rarest of cases, it can appear as late as after a month.
Moreover from one such isolated accidental exposure, it is highly unlikely that you will develop an eye infection.

Patient replied :

How worried do I need to be that it may travel up the trigemaniel ganglion and spread to my eye by means of the ophthalmic of the fith cranial nerve. (Yes I'm worried and been googling things on the Internet) I have always been worried that I'll spread it to my eyes by way of touching an active sore and then my eye, but now I'm seeing it could travel there without me even touching my eye by way of the nervous system. How worried should I be? I'm a 28 year old male in the usa and a contact lens wearer. I've also had chicken pox as a kid.

Thank you for the follow up.
See in patients with herpes simplex, herpes viruses have a predilection for nerve ganglions. That is where they lodge at their hibernation times, when there are no outbreaks. So predicting the exact risk is difficult, however in your lifetime i will say the chances of it travelling an lodging at your trigeminal ganglion is not more than 5-10 %. Google will unncessarily worry you, since a lot of people put up wrong facts and that actually is detrimental.
Don't worry as of now. As per your previous question, from one such isolated incident chances of eye infection is extremely unlikely.

Patient replied :

Well I was exposed to it by kissing a girl who had an active sore on her lip and I was unaware. It happened when I was 24 and I am now 28. I get 2-4 outbreaks per year and as of now they have been only on my lip where I had my very first outbreak. I'm just worried that it will spread to my eye eventually via the nerves where it hibernates.

See there is always that possibility of it spreading to the eye. But it's really remote.
Also considering the number of outbreaks you get, your immunity is fine and it can't be that widespread.
So there is no reason to worry.

Patient replied :

I'm battling my second outbreak in the last 30 days actually. Idk if it's progressing? Or I'm eating things that trigger it? Or being that I work outside year around? Or if my immune system is getting weaker to the hsv? I put carmex on my lips at least twice a day and take a lysine supplement. Usually I have an outbreak about every 4-8 months. Never had 2 outbreaks in one month. Which is partly why I'm worried about it spreading else where

Even stress can aggravate the outbreaks.
Sporadically there can be 2 outbreaks in a month.
That does not indicate the immune system is getting weaker.
It will slowly get better.
Also as i told you, you're a healthy male, so the virus can't spread elsewhere. Your immune system will be abl to control it.

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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