Cold Sores


A cold sore is a viral infection which is caused by Herpes Simplex virus type 1(HSV-1). Cold sores are very contagious and can be spread from person to person by saliva or skin contact. It is said that nearly 90 percent of people have the virus that causes cold sores and are first infected before the age of 10. Once a person is infected the virus will live dormant in the nerves of the face. When the virus becomes active this is what creates a cold sore.


There are many factors that can cause a cold sore to come up such as stress, dental treatment, illness or trauma to the mouth or lips. This virus can also infect the eyes and the skin on the fingers. Although cold sores are not very serious the virus can be serious to people with underlying health issue or weak immune systems.


When people are first infected with HSV-1 they may experience symptoms about a week a week later. These symptoms include headaches, fever and even vomiting. In some cases, there can be sore swelling and open sores around the mouth or a sore throat. A cold sore will only break out later in the persons life. They can break out if a person is stressed, sick or low in nutrients. Dental procedures can also make the virus active and spread due to stretching of the lips. A lot of the time cold sores become active for no apparent reason.


Cold sores can usually be found on the edge of the lip but can occur inside the mouth in people with weaker immune systems. When a cold sore is about to come up a person will feel a burning or itching sensation around the area which will then become red or swollen. In a day or two one or more blisters can be seen. They will burst and create a cold sore. The cold sore will then become crusted over and once it sheds it will form again while the sore heals. A cold sore will usually last for 8 to 10 days.


It is very hard to prevent being infected by the virus. Do not let people kiss or share food and drinks with your children who may have cold sores. There are vaccines being created to stop this virus but they only work in people who have never been infected. Antiviral medication can prevent cold sores becoming active but once infected the virus will stay with you for life. Try not to touch the area that has a cold sore to prevent them spreading.


Frequently Asked Questions

What triggers cold sores?

Cold Sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus, which once infected with you cannot get rid of. Cold sores break out when the virus is active and can often be triggered by stress, illness and even exposure to sun or cold temperatures. If you get cold sores regularly, try to take antiviral medication when you are feeling stressed or under the weather.

Can you get a cold sore from someone without a cold sore?

The virus herpes simplex type 1 is extremely contagious and can spread to people even when a cold sore does not appear. The virus lays dormant in the skin so it can always be spread. However, it is much less likely to catch the virus when a person with the virus does not have an active cold sore as oppose to when a cold sore is present.

Is it better to keep a cold sore moist or dry?

Cold sores best survive in warm moist environments which is strange because a lot of the treatments are moist creams. It is important not to lick or touch the cold sore as it can easily spread. The best option to get rid of a cold sore is to let it become dry so it is no longer uncomfortable so you can then apply lip balm to stop in splitting

How Do You Get Rid of Cold Sores?

A cold sore usually disappears on its own and will be gone in 8 to 10 days. If it does not go away there are antiviral medicines that can be bought in the pharmacy to try get rid of it quicker. This medication will never get rid of the virus but they can reduce the time a cold sore is present.

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