Pathology/Blood question


Dear Dr Dahiya- I have a question that has been concerning me, and would appreciate your expert knowledge of blood pathogens.  To make a long story short I went mountain biking and got two small cuts on my hand that did not bleed but were fairly deep.  About 3-3 1/2 hours later, I shook hands with a stranger who informed me that he also had cuts from falling.

I was not bleeding when I shook hands (it was over 3 hours after the fall), I seen no blood on me after I shook his hand.  Is this a risk for any blood pathogens?  How long does it take for small cuts to become "sealed" to viruses?  Thanks

Hello Doug:

Pathogens (from the blood, or air, water and other people) can gain access to the body via an open wound. In other words any cut even a microscopic one creates an opening to the inside of the body and exposes it to various pathogens. Blood borne pathogens like hepatitis , HIV etc are more dangerous than other types of bacteria.

If a person has a strong immunity then the body has defense mechanisms to destroy the organisms, if not a disease can develop.

Wound healing is an intricate process and involves various biochemical reactions and depending on size and depth of the wound and body's healing conditions it can take from days to weeks.

A minor cut with no bleeding should heal in a couple of days. When the skin regenerates and you can no longer see the deeper tissue, the wound does not allow pathogens to enter.

In such situations where you get small cuts with no bleeding the best approach is to wash thoroughly with soap and water and prevent contact with dirty or infected surfaces/objects.

I hope this helps answer your question.


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Neha Dahiya MD


Help patients understand the medical terminology of their lab results and / or tissue biopsy reports.


I am a pathologist and director of clinical laboratory services. I have been a practicing pathologist for last 9 years in a 350 bed multi specialty hospital laboratory in India.

Indian association of pathologists and microbiologists.
International Academy of Cytology
International association of Pathologists - Indian division
Indian association of Cytology

MD (pathology) MBA

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