The herpes simplex virus, also known as HSV, can cause different infections and symptoms. It can affect areas such as the mouth, genitals, face, buttocks, skin and the anal area.
Cold Sores/Fever Blisters and HSV
Cold sores that appear in other areas than the genitals can also be caused by herpes. There are two types of HSV, type one and type two. Type one is also referred to as herpes labialis, which causes infections above the waist. A lot of the time it will come in the form of cold sores around the mouth area. The type two HSV causes infections below the waist, such as genital herpes. Both types of HSV are capable of infecting any part of the body.
Recurring Cold Sores/Fever Blisters, Why?
When infected with the herpes simplex virus, it enters into the nerve cell and travels up to the ganglion. There it will lie dormant or latent. Sometimes the virus will begin the process of replication and travel back down to the skin nerves, which then causes blisters and sores. Some conditions can cause HSV to flare-up again, such as fevers, colds and the flu. Exposure to the sun can also cause this to happen. Other conditions that can cause infections to flare-up:
- Changes in the immune system
- Trauma to the skin
- Sometimes happens for no obvious reason
Is Oral Herpes Contagious?
All infections caused by HSV are contagious. Oral infections can be spread through kissing, close contact with herpetic lesions and contact with normal skin that is shedding the virus. Saliva that is infected by HSV seems to be the most common way to spread oral herpes. People who have active blisters are the most contagious. After a few days when the sores have dried, the risk of contagion is reduced. Although, whether the person is experiencing a break out or not, they can still spread the oral herpes virus. It is said to be impossible to catch herpes from surfaces such as towels and wash cloths.
How do I know when I have it?
Most people notice the infection of herpes when they develop a group of blisters on a red base. The blisters quickly dry up, leaving behind a scab that lasts from a couple of a days to a couple of weeks, depending on how bad the infection was. If you develop blisters that lasts for a long time (weeks), then it is unlikely to be herpes. Sometimes the herpes blisters will itch and feel very dry. Some people develop these symptoms before the blisters appear, this occurrence is called prodrome. These individuals notice an itching, tingling sensation days or hours before the blisters come.
Sometimes canker sores are confused with cold sores. Canker sores are also known as aphthous ulcers and occur inside the mouth along the mucosa. You will find these on the insides of your cheeks, lower lip, tongue, palate and gums. These sores look round and gray and can be very painful. Unlike herpes, it is not contagious and is caused by stress or trauma to that area.