Cold sores are caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus. Also known as ‘Oral Herpes’ and ‘Fever Blisters,’ this disease is commonly caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (usually associated with oral herpes) and sometimes HSV-2 (usually associated with genital herpes).
Though many people feel panicked with they first receive their diagnosis or see that first cold sore cropping up, it’s important to stay calm. Cold sores, while unpleasant, affect so many people that the U.S. Center for Disease Control doesn’t even bother with keeping track of the infection rate. It is one of the most common transmittable viruses worldwide; if you have cold sores, don’t feel like you’re alone!
Herpes-Oral.info can provide you with the information you need to help you understand the virus that you or a loved one may be suffering from, and also provides some quick tips and facts that can help you better manage the virus and avoid transmission. Browse our site to learn more about this incurable but treatable virus.
While many people live with cold sores for their whole lives without much concern, there are also many individuals who wake up one day with a cold sore on their lip and have a total melt down. It’s important to keep things in perspective, because that cold sore could have come from just about anywhere.
Most people who have oral herpes got the virus as children. As we examined in one of our recent posts, it has only really been since the 1980s that cold sores were stigmatized and considered as horrible as they are. Parents and loved ones prior to the sensationalist over-reaction of the media used to kiss their children, even during outbreaks, and would unintentionally spread the virus.
Children who had contracted oral herpes would then go to school. Children have close contact with each other – they share toys, and if they have a blister, they likely touch it and touch other objects or people without washing their hands. Many children contract oral herpes from their classmates in elementary school, up through middle and high school where kissing may spread the virus.
Still others contract the virus as an adult. Adults often catch the virus from a kiss from a partner who has the virus. Individuals who have genital herpes can also spread the virus to the face of their partner during oral sex.
If you do catch oral herpes, don’t freak out. An outbreak may be unsightly, but all-in-all it’s really not that much more awful than having a particularly bad zit. The difference of course is that oral herpes is contagious, so you’ll have to be more careful about washing your hands and kissing your loved ones. On the other hand, if you use treatment, you can severely decrease the number of outbreaks you have – some people will have outbreaks once a month (in which case a powerful antiviral is the only thing that can suppress outbreaks and manage the condition) while others may have a cold sore every few months, or even every few years. Regardless of how often or how infrequently you have outbreaks, antiviral treatments are the best way to suppress future outbreaks and even prevent them from occurring again.
While the best form of treatment for cold sores will always be an antiviral treatment, there are a few tips you can do at home to help manage your condition and make getting over your cold sores a bit faster and a bit less unpleasant.
1. Avoid Acidic Foods
Acidic foods will aggravate any sort of wound, including a cold sore. Try to stay away from tomatoes and citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, grapefruit, and limes.
2. Take ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or other over the counter pain relief.
Some people experience more pain and itchiness than others when they have an outbreak. If you find the pain or itchiness of an outbreak too much, take an OTC pain reliever to keep you from rubbing, itching, or otherwise bothering your cold sores.
3. If you have cold sores inside your mouth, use a baking soda-based mouthwash.
Baking soda can help soothe pain and safely was out an internal cold sore that may be on the gums or the insides of the cheeks.
4. Reduce redness & swelling with cold compresses.
Soak a clean cloth in cold water, and then apply the cloth to your cold sores. You can practice this throughout the day, but try to apply the compress to your face for at least 20 minutes at a time to reduce swelling and redness.
Did you know that prior to the 1970s and the creation of acyclovir, herpes and outbreaks were not carry the stigma they have today? Oral herpes is so common in the U.S. that it is not even tracked by the Center for Disease Control, and people in the past simply considered genital herpes sores to be no different than a cold sore.
Marketers who were hired to sell acyclovir in the early days insisted that the drug couldn’t be marketed. If people had oral or genital herpes, it was seen as unfortunate, but not particularly gross or unpleasant. After the drug was produced, however, marketers were quick to realize how many people had oral and genital herpes – and how much money could be made off of the drug.
During the 1970s and ‘80s, marketers ramped up their sales pitches by creating fear-campaigns; the word “outbreak” and “attack” were used to frighten those who did not have the virus, and to stress out and shame those who did. The marketing campaigns and the pharmaceutical industry succeeded – they created a drug to treat a virus that people did not care about, and turned it into a massively profitable industry.
Learn more about herpes history here.
Today, oral and genital herpes are basically the modern-day “Scarlet Letter.” Though people fear the virus, they don’t know much about it. The stigma with oral and genital herpes is honestly a little silly; outbreaks are not terribly frequent or severe for most people, and if treatment is taken, those ‘suffering’ from oral or genital herpes may not even have outbreaks, and can live lives that are otherwise the same as those who do not have the disease.
We can never turn back the clocks to the period of time where herpes was considered no worse than a troublesome zit or, in worst cases, like a bout of acne. Until a cure is developed to finally rid the world of this polarizing virus, it seems as though we will have to deal with the negative stigma generated in the 1970s and ‘80s.
Have you only recently been infected with oral or genital herpes? Many people are confused and frightened when they first find out – or even suspect – that they might have HSV. This is understandable, of course! Having oral or genital herpes can be difficult to mentally wrap your head around at first, but overall, it isn’t bad as many people make it out to be.
To help you deal with a new diagnosis, here are 10 questions you should ask your doctor:
- How can I avoid transmitting the virus to my partner?
- Should my partner be tested for HSV?
- Should I take tests for other STDs?
- Do I have herpes simplex type 1 or herpes simplex type 2?
- What sort of medication should I take?
- How often will I have outbreaks, and how will they affect my day-to-day life?
- What triggers outbreaks?
- Does herpes cause complications with other illnesses I might have?
- What support groups exist? What therapists or counselors can you recommend?
- Is it safe for me to have children?
For many of these questions, you can actually find answers online. But you should be able to trust the word of a licensed medical doctor a bit more than the folks on Yahoo answers, so its definitely worth getting the real deal on living with oral or genital herpes.
Everyone with cold sores knows that horrible feeling right before an outbreak. Sometimes it feels itchy or tingling, but the end result is always the same – an ugly fever blister that shows up just at the wrong moment.
People usually buy creams to deal with their embarrassing cold sores, but did you know that topical ointments can actually cause a cold sore to get worse?
It’s true! Cold sores thrive on moisture created by the skin and from external sources. By putting a moist gel onto your skin, it traps in the skin’s moisture and creates a miniature “greenhouse effect” for the cold sore. The last thing you want is to “feed” your cold sore’s ability to reproduce – this will only cause a blister to become more red, more inflamed, and that much more embarrassing.
A lot of people don’t know that creams are actually not the only option for treating outbreaks. This comes as a relief to people who are grossed out by messy and greasy creams, or who are unhappy about the thought of covering up their cold sore every day.
Did you know you can stop outbreaks before they have a chance to start? Natural antiviral treatments and antiviral drugs can not only help an existing outbreak heal quickly; they can suppress the virus and keep it from erupting on the surface of the skin.
The two herpes simplex viruses, oral (HSV-1) and genital (HSV-2) herpes, are some of the most commonly spread sexually transmitted diseases in America. Understanding these viruses and their means of transmission is important for preventing and dealing with them. Both forms of the herpes simplex virus can infect the genital or oral area. You can have oral herpes around the mouth, lips, or genitals; you can have genital herpes around the mouth, lips, or genitals; and you can have both forms of herpes in these locations at the same time, as well. In other words, if you already have one form of herpes on your face or genital region, you should not assume that a partner who also has this virus has the same virus as you, or that it is “safe” to have unprotected sex with another person who appears to have the same virus as you. Though HSV-1 and HSV-2 have very similar symptoms (sores around mouth or genital regions), they also have some very different qualities as well.
HSV-1 can be spread through indirect contact (sharing utensils or towels with someone who is having an outbreak), and is more contagious than HSV-2. In some ways, though HSV-2 can be spread more easily. Though genital herpes cannot be caught from a toilet seat, a towel, or a swimming pool, many carriers of HSV-2 are “asymptomatic,” meaning that they do not have HSV-2 symptoms (sores). This means they can have the virus without even knowing it, and can spread the virus during sex unintentionally. Protective sex using condoms is always recommended for sexual partners who have not been blood tested for HSV-2. HSV-2 can only be spread by skin-to-skin contact – usually during vaginal or anal sex (though oral sex can spread HSV-2 to areas around the mouth). For this reason, people with HSV-2 can significantly reduce their chance of spreading the virus by simply abstaining from sex while sores are active. It is important to note that HSV-2 does not always appear directly on the genitals; sores on the thighs or buttocks can come into direct skin-to-skin contact during sex and transmit the virus to the buttocks/thighs of the uninfected person.
HSV-1 is a very common virus. Studies have estimated that by adolescence, as many as 62% of U.S. population has oral herpes; 85% of the population is infected by the time they are in their 60s. Some scientists have estimated that as many as 90% of the adult U.S. population may have oral herpes; many often do not know about the virus they are carrying. Many people are infected with this virus as children, since it only takes a kiss from and adult with active sores to transfer the virus. HSV-1 is the more contagious of the two herpes simplex viruses. If a person with HSV-1 touches a sore and does not immediately wash their hands, the viral microbes from the sores can be applied to anything the HSV-1 infected person touches. People without the virus can unwittingly touch these objects and touch their own face afterwards, resulting in infection. Kissing and sharing utensils, food, towels, and touching anything after touching sores can spread the virus to uninfected individuals.
Cold sores from oral herpes are not something to be too embarrassed about. While cold sores can be severe, in most cases these sores are no more embarrassing than an ordinary pimple. When kept clean and dry, sores can heal without scarring. Certain treatments can also be used to help reduce the length of time it takes cold sores to heal, while also reducing the chance for the cold sores to occur in the first place.
Though the sores from HSV-1 generally occur around the lips and mouth, some people have outbreaks inside of the nostrils and over the cheeks or chin. Herpes infections can even rarely spread to the cuticles in fingers, as well as the eyes. For this reason, it is important to be very hygienic when you have an active cold sore. Canker sores are often confused with cold sores; canker sores are small ulcers only form on the soft tissue inside of the mouth, while cold sores usually form with fluid inside of them and share a closer appearance to a pimple than a canker sore. Cold sores also rarely form within the mouth.
The herpes simplex viruses, also known as oral herpes (HSV-1) and genital herpes (HSV-2), are a virus from the herpesviridae family of viruses. 90% of the world population is infected with some form of herpes virus, with the chickenpox virus and oral herpes being some of the more common forms of the virus. The cold sores associated with oral herpes can actually be caused by HSV-1 and HSV-2. While it is much more common to catch oral herpes by kissing or sharing food or utensils with someone who has HSV-1, it is also possible to get facial cold sores from genital herpes transmission. Just because HSV-2 is known as “genital herpes” does not mean that it only creates sores on the genitals; HSV-2 can be transferred to the area around the mouth during oral sex, and HSV-1 can be transferred to the genital region in the same way. Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be responsible for both oral and genital herpes; only protected sex can mitigate the ability to spread this virus.
A weakened immune system makes you susceptible to common colds and their resulting fevers. HSV-1 and HSV-2 often outbreak whenever the immune system is weakened as well, resulting in lesions commonly known as “cold” sores or “fever” blisters. After the initial infection and outbreak of cold sores, outbreaks can reoccur within as little as 5-10 days. There is no cure for any form of herpes, but treatments are available (such as prescribed acyclovir-based products, or non-prescribed natural products such as Fenvir) which can help reduce the time it takes for an outbreak to heal, while also helping to prevent cold sores from occurring in the first place. For more information on how to stop these breakouts before they even occur, take a look at Fenvir HSV antiviral.