What are cold
Cold sores (also known as oral
herpes or fever blisters) are small blisters
which are usually occur on the lips,
although can affect other areas of the face such
as the nose, eyes (ocular herpes), inside the
mouth. In rare occasions it can travel to
the brain (herpes
This is life threatening & requires immediate
when the herpes virus enters the skin & travels
along the sensory nerves where it remains in an
inactive (latent) state. During an outbreak, the
virus travels back down nerves to the skin where
it multiples, causing a cold sore.
but it appears that around 70-90% of the
population carry the virus. Infection occurs
most commonly in childhood.
Are cold sores the same as genital herpes?
Generally, cold sores (oral
herpes) are caused by the herpes simplex virus 1
(HSV 1) and genital herpes by the herpes simplex
virus 2 (HSV 2).
possible for HSV 1 to cause genital herpes via
oral to genital or genital to genital contact
with a person who has a HSV 1 infection.
How do I catch cold sores?
Transmission most commonly occurs
via direct contact with somebody who has an
active lesion. The virus enters via cracks in
the skin or the oral mucosa. It is possible to
become infected at other times due to
asymptomatic shedding (shedding the virus
through the skin with no active symptoms).
become infected with the herpes simplex virus,
you have it for life. Some people become
infected with a cold sore & never display
symptoms. Others may occasionally develop a cold
sore, and some may frequently have outbreaks.
What are the symptoms of cold sores?
It is quite
common to display no symptoms at all when you
are initially infected. Sometimes you will
display typical cold sore type symptoms which
What triggers cold sores?
several triggers that can bring on cold sores.
As we have mentioned, once you
become infected there is no cure. There are ways
to help prevent outbreaks or reduce the severity
in the event of an outbreak.
tablets containing Aciclovir can shorten the
duration of an outbreak.
over the counter painkillers such as panadol can
an amino acid that is believed to reduce the
frequency & severity of cold sores.
consult your doctor if you suspect you have a
cold sore, if you have frequent outbreaks of
cold sores or if they are slow to heal.
Preventing the spread of cold sores:
Avoid sharing toothbrushes,
drink bottles, cutlery, towels etc.
contact with others when you have an active
lesion. This includes kissing, especially
hands frequently, especially if you have
touched the infected area
adults, cold sores are an annoyance but not
dangerous. However, infection in newborns (neonatal
herpes simplex) can be very severe in
newborns & in some cases have lead to
death. Infants are most commonly infected with
HSV 2 (genital herpes) during delivery.
If you have
symptoms of a cold sore or suspect you may be
shedding the virus, avoid contact with newborn
articles on this site have not been written by a doctor &
should not be considered a replacement for a doctors visit.
The articles are provided for informative purposes only & should
not be used for
the diagnosis or treatment of any
While great care
has been made in the creation of these articles, we cannot
guarantee the accuracy or omissions on these pages. If in any
doubt whatsoever, seek professional medical advice.