About cold sores
Cold sores or fever blisters are also known by the medical term herpes labialis. These sores, which look like fluid-filled blisters, are caused by herpes simplex virus and are very contagious. Many people carry the virus in their body without being aware of it. The virus is usually first contracted in the childhood, which is when the first outbreak took place. After that, the virus remains inactive, embedded in the nerve fibers. Due to certain triggers, it may re-activate and cause new outbreaks.
A cold sore can last from four to fourteen days. In the beginning, there is a tingling sensation at the site where the blister will form. The blister fills with clear fluid, sometimes with pus and blood as well, and after some time those fluids ooze out. A cold sore is healed when the scab, formed after the fluid has oozed out, falls off.
Since they are caused by a virus, cold sores do not respond to antibiotics. Even antiviral medications are not always able to prevent or cure a cold sore. There are remedies that can help in speeding up the healing of the cold sore, such as sage, aloe vera, tea tree oil, zinc, lysine and many more.
Myths and facts about cold sores
One of the common misconceptions about cold sores is that they are the same thing as canker sores, only on the inside of the mouth. This is not true, because canker sores rarely have a viral cause. In addition, cold sores can appear inside the mouth too and they look different from canker sores.
Another myth about cold sores is that they cannot appear on other parts of the body. It is very important to avoid touching the cold sore, especially in its oozing stage, because the virus can pass to other parts of the body and cause a new infection.
Many people mistakenly believe that cold sores only appear when a person has or is about to have common cold or flu. This is only true to some extent. Cold sores are not related to illnesses such as cold, but if they are triggered by a drop in the immune system, the same drop can increase the risk of actually becoming sick with flu or cold.
Another common myth is that cold sores are sexually transmitted. Genital herpes, which is a sexually transmitted disease, is similar but it is caused by a completely different type of herpes virus and the two are not the same. Also, many people believe that if they avoid kissing with a person who has a cold sore, they are safe from getting one themselves. The virus is mainly passed though saliva, and kissing is a common route of infection, but it can also be passed in different ways, for example through shard objects, utensils, cups and glasses.