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HSV-2 Finger Infection Concern

Recently have been fighting a finger infection that I thought was Herpetic Whitlow which started on 9/23. Dr. didn't think so. He prescribed antibiotics. They did not seem to cure the finger.

Fast forward to today and the finger is much better now. The other day I woke up with a small blister on the same finger. Had the Dr. uncover it and had it cultured for Herpes. Test came back for HSV-2!!!!

I have never been diagnosed with genital herpes, now had any genital herpes symtoms. I did, however, "finger" my new partner right before this infection started. She never disclosed to me that she had a herpes infection. We have also had unprotected sex. I am trying to figure out what I should be concerned with in regard to future partners. Should i be concerned that I also have genital herpes or is my infection localized to my finger only? I have not had zero symptoms in the genital region unlike on my finger which were severe. I am about 30 days post first sexual contact.

Please advise. Thank you.
3 Responses
Avatar universal
Very interesting story -- thanks for posting it. However, it's interesting precisely because it's such a rare event. This forum, and the herpes and STD expert forums (before they went into hibernation), receives fairly frequent questions from people concerned about risk of whitlow, especially from fingering or other hand-genital exposures. The replies, both here and by the experts, always say it's very rare, if it happens at all. But obviously it can happen. By coincidence, the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine has a photo of herpes whitlow much like yours, i.e. HSV2 in a person who had no apparent genital infection: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMicm1311820

Paronychia (bacterial infection adjacent to a fingernail) is much more common than herpetic whitlow, so don't blame your doctor on making the wrong diagnosis initially. I'm glad the truth was quickly sorted out.

If you also had intercourse with your partner, in addition to the fingering episode, it is possible you also had (and still have) a genital infection with HSV2 in addition to the finger.  Probably not, but it will be difficult to be certain. For future partners, the main risk probably would be hand-to-genital transmission, but only if you have an active outbreak on your finger. But I can't guarantee you don't have an genital infection with the potential for transmission.

Thanks again. Best wishes.
Avatar universal
Thank you for the response HowardH. I do have some follow-up thoughts and questions. I recently went on a couple of dates with a new potential partner. I very much want to disclose my finger condition to her before things advance to far.

Do I disclose my finger to her as simply providing a general background of what happened (ie infection started on 9/23 and was thinking it was an infected cuticle.....fast forward to this week.....etc etc..) and stating it was finally diagnosed as a herpetic whitlow? In addition should I disclose that it is HSV-2, but have had no issues in the genital region during these last 30 days?

I want to put her first, but do it in a manner where I am not over disclosing unless necessary. I hope that makes sense. Thoughts? Thank you again.
Avatar universal
I'm not sure you need to mention your finger herpes at all. Although asymptomatic viral shedding and transmission from finger herpes hasn't been studied, I would guess that there is little if any chance of transmission in the absence of an obvious outbreak. Also, it seems to me you could limit hand-genital contact to the other hand.
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