Cold sores are unsightly, painful and embarrassing – and also something the majority of the population has had to deal with in one form or another. What most people may not realize is that cold sores are, in fact, herpes of the mouth – or herpes labials. Cold sores, also commonly referred to as fever blisters, are small wounds, blisters or lesions on the face or inside the mouth. Cold sores usually cause pain, burning, or itching before bursting and crusting over. Cold sores most commonly appear on the lips, chin, cheeks, inside the nostrils, and rarely is the gum or palate -the roof of the mouth.
Cold sores are actually a strain of the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) virus and they are highly contagious, which is one of the reasons they are such a frustrating problem for millions of people each year. The cold sore virus is never completely destroyed, and is processed by your body and then remains dormant until “awakened” by factors such as stress or sunburn. When the virus reactivates in the form of a cold sore, it goes through several phases, each with a different degree of contagiousness.
Many of us have been exposed to cold sores throughout our lives without even knowing it. The sad reality is that many people who suffer from cold sores were infected by adults who probably received a kiss from a parent or close friend. The virus is very capable of being transmitted through saliva, even if there is no visible sore present. And the herpes virus is anaerobic, which means it does not need oxygen to survive or spread – making it more contagious and a further problem.
ARE COLD SORES CONTAGIOUS UPON FIRST SIGNS OF
The contagious period for cold sores begins at the onset of the very first symptoms. Some of the initial symptoms are; burning, tingling and redness around the lips. Even at this early stage you can spread a cold sore, most commonly with direct contact such as with a kiss.HSV-1 is most likely to spread when fluid leaks visible on the seams of the sore, which is when they are in
their most contagious phase. A cold sore can take more than two weeks to completely heal and go away and can be contagious for the duration of having it.
ARE COLD SORES CONTAGIOUS ONCE THEY HAVE
SCABS ON THEM?
Unfortunately, yes, not only do you have to deal with the embarrassment of having a cold sore, but they are still contagious when they have scabbed over, this is usually the most painful period of the cycle of cold sores as well. Although the scabies is not the actual virus itself, it is the protein in the blood and as the virus replicates itself, it damages the skin around the lips and
nose forming a clot or scab. The body responds better to scabs as opposed to open wounds, so if your cold sore does scab, it is a sign of healing. It is important to try and keep your scabbed cold sore moist with a petroleum jelly or other chap-stick because it may crack and break while eating, talking or even smiling, which will cause the viral fluids to escape and may cause a further outbreak. Even after scabies appears and your sore appears to be healed, the virus is still alive and can be spread by contact.
If someone you know has a cold sore, definitely avoid touching the infected area. A cold sore virus is spread by sharing body fluids, utensils, straws, cups, and any other direct or non direct contact. To avoid spreading the virus if you have a cold sore, avoid contact with an active sore. Be sure to wash your hands frequently throughout the time the cold sore is present. Do not share items that come in contact with the mouth. Do not engage in kissing and oral sex to reduce the chance of spreading the infection to others. Remember, cold sores are highly contagious, so precautions should be taken to ensure you, and your loved ones, do not get this disease.