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Lip Herpes - Also Known as Cold Sores

  • Synopsis: Published: 2009-03-29 (Revised/Updated 2013-12-06) - Information regarding cold sores and fever blisters common terms for the symptoms caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus - Disabled World.

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Quote: "HSV 1 is often spread by kissing, and after HSV 1 infection takes place a cold sore outbreak can appear within a week or so or may never appear at all."

Cold sore, fever blister, herpes. The first two are generally thought to be typical conditions, benign, a part of life. The third condition has a darker reputation: a dreaded disease and one often linked to sexual behavior.

In reality, all three conditions are the same. Cold sores and fever blisters are actually common terms for the symptoms caused by herpes.

To put it simply, a cold sore is herpes.

Specifically, a cold sore is Herpes Simplex Virus 1, or HSV 1 (cold sores are sometimes caused by Herpes Simplex Virus 2, the strain of the herpes virus that typically causes genital herpes, but this is rare).

Cold sores, or fever blisters, occur when the herpes virus travels along nerve paths and appears at the surface of the skin.

Are all instances of cold sores herpes

There are blemishes that appear on the skin that aren't cold sores; but if the blemish is a cold sore, or a fever blister if you prefer, then it's herpes.

Surprised? Dubious? These kinds of reactions aren't unusual on learning that herpes causes cold sores, and that's almost certainly due to the negative association that the word 'herpes' has for some people. Why is this? Yes, there is a variation of the herpes virus that typically causes genital outbreaks (HSV 2), but the strain of herpes that causes cold sores, HSV 1, can also be spread to the genitals; and herpes in general is an exceptionally common condition: among US adults, roughly 20% have HSV 2, and up to 90% have HSV 1.

HSV 1 is often spread by kissing, and after HSV 1 infection takes place a cold sore outbreak can appear within a week or so or may never appear at all. Many people with HSV 1 don't have cold sore outbreaks, and there's no absolute reason why some HSV 1 infected people have cold sore outbreaks and others don't.

The first HSV 1 outbreak a person has can be the most uncomfortable, with a fever and a general ill feeling sometimes accompanying the initial appearance of cold sores. Subsequent outbreaks are typically less severe, aided by the body's production of herpes antibodies, which help fight future outbreaks more effectively.

Treatment for cold sore outbreaks is available and typically shortens the duration of an outbreak, but treatment for a cold sore isn't necessary as outbreaks will eventually clear on their own. See some home treatments for cold sores.

While cold sore outbreaks are usually not a serious condition, it is possible to spread the HSV 1 virus to the eye(s). This condition is known as ocular herpes, and unlike a general cold sore outbreak, ocular herpes requires medical attention.

Ocular herpes is not common, but it does happen.

Ocular herpes usually occurs from a mouth to eye contact, such as placing a contact lens into the mouth to moisturize it, and then placing the contact lens into the eye.

Don't go from your mouth or someone else's mouth into your eye(s)! Most people likely wouldn't do this anyway, but it's worth reinforcing.

Related Information:

  1. Terry E. (Mar 29, 2009). Canker Sores - Mouth Ulcers
  2. GlaxoSmithKline (Oct 04, 2012). Cold Sore Treatment: Abreva Conceal
  3. Dr Jenny Tylee (Mar 23, 2009). How to Heal a Cold Sore Quickly

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