Welcome to the forum.
Most likely your HSV-1 infection is oral, not genital -- correct? I'm also going to assume your partner's diagnosis of oral herpes and whitlow are accurate. It sounds quite reasonable that she could have caught your HSV-1 infection, probably by kissing. In that sense, oral herpes due to HSV-1 is not considered an STD. Initial oral herpes often causes identical symptoms as strep throat, so maybe herpes is all she had. In any case, such symptoms -- i.e. one or more sores plus severe sore throat -- are typical for an initial case of herpes. And whitlow is most common in initial herpes, not recurrent, so that also fits with an initial infection.
Apparently you are unaware of an important general principle about herpes: people are immune, or at least highly resistant, to new HSV infections, anywhere on the body, with the HSV type they already have. Those with HSV-1 don't catch new HSV-1 infections; and ditto for those with HSV-2. This goes for auto-inoculation as well -- i.e. self infection of new body parts. Thus, you are not likely to ever get whitlow or eye infection. (Eye infections may be an exception; autoinoculation may sometimes occur in people with established HSV-1 or HSV-2. But very rarely.) Accordingly, it is very unlikely your hand lesions are herpes.
To your specific questions:
1) There are no data on viral shedding from whitlow sites; there has been no research on this. But probably little or none. Asymptomatic shedding is primarily from moist surfaces or thin skin.
2) Recurrent whitlow due to HSV-1 is less common than recurrent oral or facial lesions, but either site could occur. Or she may have no recurrent outbreaks at all; many people do not. If and when it happens, oral and finger outbreaks are likely to be independent, i.e. to not occur at the same time.
3) Yes, a bandaid is fine; plus frequent hand-washing and use of hand sanitizer (Purel and other brands) from time to time. HSV is rarely if ever transmitted by such superficial contact as hand-shaking. The most important prevention strategy for your partner will be to avoid kissing people when having an oral outbreak.
4) Whatever is on your hands, almost certainly it isn't herpes. But if in doubt, or if otherwise concerned, see a doctor or clinic about it.
5) For the reasons described above, you cannot reinfect one another with HSV-1-- i.e. people don't "ping-pong" the infection back and forth. Common sense would suggest you avoid direct contact with fresh lesions if you have recurrent outbreaks -- e.g. no oral sex when one of you has an oral outbreak, just to be maximally safe in case your immunity to reinfection is not perfect. But in general, you shouldn't worry about this at all.
6) Contact lens users should always wash or sanitize their hands before changing removing or inserting the lenses. Even not done by someone with active herpes, the risk probably would be low, for the reason described above. But better safe than sorry.
I hope this helps. Best wishes-- HHH, MD
What are the chances of contracting hsv2 orally? I briefly made out with someone else within two weeks before my recent outbreak. I did not notice any lesion on her and I did not have any myself. We only made out (around 30 seconds), there was no mouth to genital contact.
1. Is mouth to mouth transmission of hsv2 common?
2.. Does hsv1 confer any protection again hsv2?
3. If somehow I did contract oral hsv2 recently (and therefore would now have hsv1 and hsv2 orally), and subsequently passed it to another person orally/whitlow, would I be at increased risk of getting hand herpes from holding hands even if she had a bandaid? For half of the first day we noticed it, she did not have a bandaid but there wasn't much (but some) hand contact. I would say that it's unlikely to be herpes on my hand, even if it were hsv2 somehow, based on what you've said about auto innoculation and ping ponging since by the time I noticed the things on my hand, my lip sore is almost completely healed from whatever I have (and presumably now have some resistance elsewhere). I would guess that I'd be resistant due to what I had just had healed on my lip, but if it was a new strain maybe I'm not highly resistant in other parts of body yet.
4. I've been taking an antiviral pill for the last week (though less regimented the last few days), would this confer any protection against additional infections elsewhere on the body?
Thanks for all your answers doc, they are much appreciated.
1) Oral HSV-2 is rare, so mouth to mouth HSV-2 transmission almost never occurs. I have never heard of a case.
2) People with HSV-1 tend to have less severe initial outbreaks when they catch HSV-2. There might be a less likelihood of catching it, but not much.
3) I'm not going to speculate about a situation that is so rare as this. It isn't worth it. Just let it go.
4) Since the risk of auto-inoculation is so low to begin with, there is unlikely to be any additional protected from an anti-HSV drug. Why are you taking it? Based on everything you have said so far, it seem pointless.