Medical Sciences Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professionals in medical and allied health fields, students of those professions, related academics, and others with a sound understanding of medicine and healthcare-related sciences. It only takes a minute to sign up.
My wife currently has a cold sore. I currently don't. I've had cold sores before, which means that (most probably) HSV-1 lies dormant somewhere in my body.
If I kiss my wife while she is has a cold sore, will this this trigger a recurrence?
I've tried to research this question, but the information I find online does not help much:
If the virus already lies dormant within me, additional exposure shouldn't matter. --> KISS
On the other hand, most "how to prevent getting cold sores ever again" websites online say that you should avoid exposure to infected people (without further explanation; in particular, without addressing the previous point). --> DON'T KISS
You are already infected. The HSV is indeed dormant in your body. It
keeps trying to get out, till your immune system is off guard and it
will present as a cold sore. So when you don't have a cold sore your
immune system is in control and you can't get "more infected" by your
wife. So you can kiss without worries.
The next question is, do you really want to if she has a sore ;)
I'm new here, i thought I keep it simple. I will try to provide some evidence and complete the answer:
HSV-1 infects mucosal cells, like the ones in mouth and genitalia. After infection the HSV virus infects innervating neurons causing a latent infection. While the mucosal cells are infected, CD8+ cells (which kill virus infected cells) "learn" to recognize the virus and kill it of. As long as your CD8+ cells function normally the virus cannot reactivate. Also antibodies agains the infecting virus are formed, protecting against reinfection (theoretically you could also reinfect yourself) (1)
As @YviDe pointed out it is possible to get infected with multiple strains. In this a small study with 13 HSV-1 infect persons 2 where infected with more than 1 strain (2) However, there is also evidence an infection with HSV can protect against an infection with another strain. (3)
Now, lets assume you and your wife have the same strain of virus. Then the likelihood of you reinfecting yourself is much higher than she infecting you, since you drink from your infected glass and use your infected toothbrush etc.
If she has a different strain things are uncertain. As pointed out, your current infection could protect you but depending on numerous factors you can get reinfected or not with the different strain. If you have a cold sore your immune system (partly) compromised, so at that moment your susceptibility for a infection by this different strain is probably higher.
However, changes that you get infected anyway while living under the same roof is pretty high.
If I where you, I would worry about it to much since you can't be sure about anything without genetic sequencing of your and your wifes HSV-1 virus.
(1) Egan KP et al, Immunological control of herpes simplex virus infections, 2013
(2) Roest RW et al, Genotypic analysis of sequential genital herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) isolates of patients with recurrent HSV-1 associated genital herpes, 2014
(3) Stanberry LR et al, Longitudinal risk of herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1, HSV type 2, and cytomegalovirus infections among young adolescent girls, 2004
Stack Exchange Inc., and its sites including Medical Sciences Stack Exchange, is not a medical practice or healthcare provider and does not provide medical advice. Stack Exchange Inc., and its sites including Medical Sciences Stack Exchange, does not endorse or recommend any healthcare providers that moderate or otherwise contribute to this Site. Consult your own doctor for medical advice. The information and opinions shared here do not reflect the views of Stack Exchange Inc. and are not provided nor endorsed by Stack Exchange Inc. The content on this site is solely provided by individual community members who are not posting on behalf of Stack Exchange Inc.
Do not share personal medical information, medical history or any other specific details about a person's medical symptoms, condition etc (whether yours or someone you know) on this site or any Stack Exchange site. This is a public Site and all posts on this Site can be seen by anyone and may be shared freely with others.
Medical Sciences Stack Exchange is for information exchange only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, individualized diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare provider. Communications on Medical Sciences Stack Exchange are not privileged/private communications and do not create a doctor-patient relationship. Full disclaimer and more information about this site here.