How Can Cold Sores Recur?

Having a Cold Sore

Cold sores (also known as fever blisters) are a contagious condition caused by the condition known as herpes simplex virus. The resulting condition is known for causing small, painful fluid filled blisters found on the mouth and nose.

Cold sores are frequently confused with canker sores, which are non contagious ulcers that occur in the soft tissues inside the mouth, where cold sores don't happen. Cold sores are a common condition. Though this condition can not be cured or prevented once contracted, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the frequency and limit the duration.

Getting Cold Sores

Cold sores are spread when the herpes simplex virus enters the body through any cuts, breaks or scratches in the skin inside or around the mouth area. It is most commonly spread through such physical actions as: coughing, sneezing, sharing items used by an infected person, directly touching a cold sore, or touching contaminated fluid such as an infected person's saliva.

Cold sore infections can also be spread to a child by their parents. After contracting herpes simplex type I (HSV-1), the virus will still remain dormant in the nerves or skin around the original area after the first episode of the disease. Conditions such as colds, flu, or even stress can cause the virus to take effect and trigger an outbreak.

Differences Between Herpes Simplex Types

It is important to understand that herpes simplex type I is different from herpes simplex type II (Herpes simplex type II is the virus that causes the sexually transmitted disease known as genital herpes). Herpes simplex type I is a very common virus, with statistics showing that up to ninety percent of adults have been exposed to the virus during their lifetime.

Preventing a Cold Sore

While an outbreak of cold sores may not always be preventable, the blisters and ulcers of a cold sore outbreak are highly contagious until completely healed. The best prevention is to avoid close contact with other people during an outbreak, and wash hands frequently before and after touching anything. It is also important to be careful not to touch other areas of the body, such as the eyes or genital area. A person must make sure to avoid any triggers which can cause a relapse of the condition, such as physical stress, lack of sleep, colds, or staying in the sun for extended periods of time. If in the sun, use sunblock during the summer and winter. If a doctor is seen during an early stage of the disease, there may be medications that can be prescribed that can shorten outbreak lengths.

Treating Cold Sores

Without treatment, cold sores can clear up on their own within seven to ten days. Otherwise, the use of oral antiviral medications, topical creams, ointments, medicated mouth rinses can be used. Other natural alternatives, such as Vitamin C, lysine supplements, lemon balm, and zinc oxide have been used to provide relief and lessen the duration of an outbreak.


Photo Credit: pinkcrush6

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