Everyone has experienced the pain that is associated with a cold sore or been embarrassed by the unsightly appearance of a cold sore on their lip at one point in time of their life or another. What actually causes cold sores and how can you prevent them from coming back again?
WHAT IS A COLD SORE?
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). The virus is transmitted from person to person through saliva and can be either directly given by skin to skin contact or by things such as drinking from the same glass or cup. Cold sores usually appear as clusters of small blisters on the lips and are often times very painful. Most people are infected with HSV-1 before 10 years of age, but anyone is susceptible to developing a cold sore.
After this initial infection, the virus remains dormant, or inactive, within the nerves of the face. In some people, the virus may become active again from time to time and when this does happens, cold sores will reappear. HSV-1 can become active again due to a common cold or fever.
Mental and emotional stress can also lead to an outbreak of cold sores. Other factors that are often associated with cold sore outbreaks are; dental disease, trauma to the lips or sunbathing for extended amounts of time. HSV-1 can also infect a persons eyes, skin, fingers and genitals. However, most genital herpes are caused by herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-2). HSV-1 can cause serious illness for people who have health problems and who have a weakened and compromised immune system.
Cold sores are often mistaken as canker sours, but cold sores are actually very different from canker sores. Cold sores are caused by the reactivation of herpes simplex virus and are contagious. Canker sores, which are not contagious, are ulcers that occur in the soft tissues inside your mouth, places where cold sores do not usually occur.
WHAT CAUSES COLD SORES?
Cold sores are often caused by stress, fever, menstruation and over exposure to sunlight.
COLD SORE TREATMENTS:
There are a variety of treatments available for the treatment of cold sores, and most have proven affective, however, every treatment will react different depending on the person, so if you are not finding the results that you need from a particular treatment, simply try a different treatment and you should see some relief from the pain and discomfort as well as the size of your cold sore subsiding.
- Ice – used to numb the pain as well as clear up the cold sore. The lower temperature of the ice inhibits the cold sore from growing and spreading further.
- Warm tea bags – apply to the infected area every hour or two. Tea has a substance referred to as tannic acid in it, which has antiviral properties found in it and are a great at home remedy for treating cold sores. This treatment is most effective when used at the onset of your symptoms.
- Petroleum jelly and other chap-stick can help soothe and comfort the infected area.