Everyone is susceptible to getting cold sores, but there are preventative measures you can take to decrease your chances. Learn more about cold sores below.
Cold Sore Basics
Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) is to blame for cold sores. It causes a contagious infection that can produce cold sores around or, occasionally, in the mouth. (Canker sores, or aphthous ulcers, are different because they only occur inside the mouth. Canker sores are not due to herpes simplex or any identified infection.)
Herpes simplex type 1 is transmitted through direct contact between people when they kiss or, for instance, share lip balm or eating utensils. Herpes blisters can form on the lips, gums, roof of the mouth, and throat, then burst and crust over. These sores can linger up to three weeks.
Other symptoms include muscle aches, fever, irritability, and swollen neck glands. If a severe sore throat and swallowing problems follow, dehydration might result. This can require a hospital stay, especially for small children.
In many people, after an initial infection the virus can lie dormant in the nerve cells without exhibiting symptoms until it reactivates, often because of a stress factor, such as illness with fever, a facial sunburn, the menstrual cycle, or even a toothache. The virus can spread, however, in saliva, even when a person has no symptoms.
No medications exist that can eliminate HSV-1, but prescription treatments can shorten outbreaks and help ease pain.
Who's at Risk for Cold Sores
Anyone can become infected with HSV-1, and almost everyone does, because it is commonly spread among preschool-age children who share food, eating utensils, or drinking glasses.
Defensive Measures Against Cold Sores
There is no cure for HSV-1. In fact, once a person has been infected with the herpes virus, it stays in the body forever. The best medicine, therefore, should be prevention. You can avoid HSV-1 by:
- Avoiding direct contact with sores if someone has an active herpes infection
- Not sharing drinking glasses and eating utensils
- Getting adequate sleep
- Eating a healthful diet
- Avoiding the factors that trigger activation
Mono, also know as "the kissing disease," is a virus that can not only wreak havoc on your social life, but can force you to feel quite ill for about a month. Learn more about mono on the next page.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.