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"Can I get Hep C from scratching the inside of my nose?"

ZocdocAnswersCan I get Hep C from scratching the inside of my nose?


Can I get Hep C from scratching the inside of my nose (to the point that it bled a few droplets from being dry) if I have microscopic hep particles under my nail after sharing a pen with a client that has it (and may have microscopic blood particles on his fingers)? I shared a pen with this clt, washed my hands, came home, washed my hands again (but didn't pay specific attention to the nail area b/c I wasn't thinking about it at the time) and then scratched the inside of my nose until it bled? Would this be a realistic mode of transmission? Should I get tested or is this ridiculous? Thank you.


I am sorry to hear that you scratched the inside of your nose which caused some bleeding, and that you are concerned that you may have contracted hepatitis C from a client of yours. I am happy to give you some of my initial thoughts, but ultimately I am going to recommend that you make an appointment with a gastroenterologist or hepatologist (liver specialist) if you decide that you want to go through with testing. You are correct that hepatitis C is transmitted through bodily fluids. However, in your case it sounds like you are concerned that you may have gotten hep C particles on your fingers from using someone else's pen, and then later scratched your nose (After washing your hands a couple times). I would say that this would be exceptionally rare for you to have contracted hep C this way. The reason for this is first off that you are not even sure if there was any Hep C on the pen that you were using, and if there was, whether it was out and exposed to the environment long enough that it was no longer viable. Also, washing your hands a few times would decrease your chances further, and lastly scratching your own nose there was likely not enough viral load to cause an infection. There really isn't any data out there on developing hep C from environmental exposure, however the CDC (Center for Disease Control) does publish data on contracting hep C from a needle stick (which would be much higher risk that what you went through, and the seroconversion rates are still very low. If you want more information, I would talk to a hepatologist. I hope this helps.

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