causes cold sores?
Cold sores are
caused by the herpes simplex virus, and usually the herpes simplex virus type
1 (HSV-1). About 90% of people will be infected by HSV-1 at some point in their
lives. The first infection may not even be noticed or it may cause a flu-like
illness and painful ulcers in the mouth.
Following the first
attack, the virus will lie dormant in nerve cells, but, in some people, it is
triggered and reactivates. The reasons for this reactivation are not fully understood,
but may include:
- Another viral
infection, such as a cold or influenza.
- Physical or
mental stress or exhaustion.
- Over exposure
to wind or sunlight.
- Underlying immune
system problem (which means the sufferer cannot fight off the infection) or
as a side-effect of immunosuppressant drugs (used to treat cancer or transplant
are cold sores spread to others?
They can be spread
by contact such as kissing but also by sharing toothbrushes, towels, cutlery,
happens during an outbreak?
- Tingling or
itchiness around the lips usually precede an outbreak.
- Small blisters
appear and enlarge until they burst, leaving open sores.
- These open sores
Most cold sores
heal in about one week
are cold sores treated?
In most cases,
cold sores are an irritating nuisance which clear up within a few days. However,
over-the-counter treatments are available for more troublesome outbreaks and
are most effective if applied as soon as you feel tingling or itching develop.
You should only consult your doctor if the cold sore is accompanied by fever,
red or sore eyes, or if the area is very inflamed and you notice a yellow-coloured
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