Sunday, June 9, 2024

Is Herpes And Cold Sores The Same Thing

Is There A Cure For Herpes Simplex

How to treat cold sores

There is no cure for herpes simplex. Once you have the virus, its a lifelong infection.

What is the outlook for people with herpes simplex?

For many people, the first herpes outbreak is the most severe. Many outbreaks are less frequent and milder after the first year of infection. Some people may have only one outbreak and never have another again.

Herpes infection doesnt usually pose a serious health risk. The risk of a health complication due to herpes is higher in infants and if you have HIV/AIDS, cancer or an organ transplant.

Canker Sores Vs Herpes

Canker sores are ulcers that appear in your mouth, usually on the soft tissue at the sides of your teeth or on the roof of your mouth. They are round and white, with a red border.

Canker sores appear because of a weakness in your immune system or a nutritional deficiency. They are not contagious and usually go away on their own without treatment.

Cold sores, which are sometimes called fever blisters or oral herpes, are caused by the herpes virus. They are small blisters found on or around your lips.

Two strains of herpes can cause a cold sore: HSV1 typically occurs in the mouth, but HSV2, which is usually found on your genitals, can also cause cold sores. Both strains of herpes are very contagious.

Canker sores
  • hormonal shifts

People with celiac disease, HIV, and Crohns disease may have a higher risk of developing canker sores. They are more common in women, and may even run in families.

Small, single canker sores are painful, but they are not usually a cause for concern. They typically clear up within a week or two. Canker sores that occur in clusters, or are larger and deeper than normal, can take additional time to heal.

Cold Sores Main Causes

Most cold sores are due to HSV-1, though HSV-2 causes some sores. The HSV-2 virus is the virus that causes genital herpes.

The virus first affects your skin then moves to your nerve cells. It never leaves your body, but your immune system can suppress it most of the time so that you dont have constant sores.

You may get cold sores every once in a while for your whole life or you may only ever get one. The virus can stay dormant so that you never get another cold sore after the first outbreak.

If you do get outbreaks again, they may be related to other things that are going on in your life. Outbreaks can be triggered by other illnesses, sun exposure, menstrual periods, or stress.

Usually, the first outbreak of cold sores is the worst one. If you get them again, the cold sores wont be as severe. You may feel a tingling in the spot where a sore is about to appear so you can begin treating it before it shows up.

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What Causes A Cold Sore Outbreak

Cold sores are caused by a variety of physical and mental triggers, including:

  • Exposure to inclement weather or direct sunlight
  • Injury or trauma

If you have HSV-1, you can be asymptomatic. That means the virus is present in your body but its not currently causing any symptoms. The virus lies dormant in your nerve cells until something triggers an outbreak. However, some people who have HSV never even have a single outbreak.

Check If It’s A Cold Sore

Cold sores

A cold sore usually starts with a tingling, itching or burning feeling.

Over the next 48 hours:

Cold sores should start to heal within 10 days, but are contagious and may be irritating or painful while they heal.

Some people find that certain things trigger a cold sore, such as another illness, sunshine or menstrual periods.

Other possible causes of your symptoms


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Sex And Physical Irritation

Friction from intercourse can irritate tissue and trigger a herpes outbreak.

Obviously, that doesnt mean to avoid having sex forever or that youll break out if you do.

But it does mean if youre having early warning signs that an outbreak is coming on, like sensitivity or tingling, then wait for them to pass.

They may be prodrome symptoms that signal contagiousness and an impending outbreak. And making them worse might encourage the outbreak to happen.

So since sex can sometimes trigger outbreaks, just be careful to minimize irritation. Try using a water-based lubricant. However, lubricants that contain the spermicide nonoxynol-9 can irritate soft tissue of the vaginal walls.

Other physical irritations can cause herpes outbreaks:

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What Causes A Fever Blister On Your Lip

In addition to being called fever blisters or cold sores, these blisters are often called oral herpes because they are caused by the herpes simplex virus 1 . This common viral infection affects around two thirds of adults aged 50 and over according to the World Health Organization, but not everyone will show the telltale symptom of blisters on their lips.ii

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Are Cold Sores Contagious

Yep, cold sores are highly contagious. The body releases the herpes simplex virus through cold sore blister fluids, saliva and genital fluids. Someone who comes into contact with these fluids can then become infected with the virus and experience cold sores.

This generally comes in the form of skin-to-skin contact, with the most common being kissing ââ¬â although, even contact sports like rugby can be a way that the cold sore virus is spread.

It can also happen indirectly by sharing items that touch the mouth like drinking glasses, eating utensils, lip balm, razors or towels.

If you have active cold sores, it’s best to avoid sharing the above items to prevent spreading cold sores to other people. The infectious period can last anywhere between seven to 12 days.

How Hsv Is Transmitted

Cold Sores | Oral Herpes | Causes, Signs & Symptoms, Treatment

The herpes simplex virus spreads between people, usually through contact with saliva or direct contact with a blister. The most infectious time is in the first few days when the blister is forming. Sometimes, people can pass the virus to others when they have no symptoms. This is because the virus may be lying dormant in the skin cells of the lips.

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Location Matters When Figuring Out If Its A Cold Sore Or A Canker Sore

The location of these lesions is another way to determine a cold sore from a canker sore. Canker sores develop on the mucous membranes inside the mouth. Therefore, youre more likely to find these sores on the skin inside the cheeks and lips, on your soft palate, and on your tongue.

Cold sores, on the other hand, dont usually appear inside the mouth, although this is possible when you are first exposed to the virus, which is usually as a child younger than age 5. Instead, cold sores often develop on or around the lips.

They can also form on other parts of the body, such as the cheeks and around the nose. Some people get cold sores around the eyes.

Signs And Symptoms Of A Cold Sore Vs Herpes

Cold sores

Cold sores are also called oral herpes because the virus is located in and around the mouth. You may have one or a group of blisters located on your face including:

Cold sores last 7-10 days and can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. They may tingle, burn, leak liquid, and be painful.


In addition to displaying as cold sores, herpes can also cause similar sores on your genitals. The sores may also look like blisters and occur one at a time or in a cluster, like cold sores. Outbreaks of herpes happen several times per year and decrease with time.

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How Is Herpes Simplex Diagnosed

Healthcare providers may diagnose herpes simplex based on how the sores look. Your provider may take a sample from the sore. Laboratory analysis of the sample can confirm or rule out the herpes virus.

If you dont have sores, your healthcare provider can use a blood test to check for HSV-1 and HSV-2 antibody, a marker showing youve been exposed to the virus. The blood test doesnt show an active infection . But it informs your provider whether youve been exposed to the herpes virus in the past. If this is your first infection, you may not test positive for herpes if there hasnt been enough time for your body to develop antibodies. The HSV-1and HSV-2 antibody test may be repeated in eight to 12 weeks.

Diagnosis For Cold Sores

8 Things to Know About Herpes

If you have an outbreak of sores, your doctor can examine them to make sure the HSV-1 actually causes them. They may take a swab from the sore to test it for the presence of the virus.

If you dont have an outbreak at the time of your appointment, your doctor can order blood tests to diagnose herpes.

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Can Genital Herpes Be Treated

Your physician can prescribe different medications to help reduce your symptoms and speed up the healing of an outbreak. These medicines work best when you start them soon after an outbreak occurs.

To reduce pain during an outbreak:

  • Sit in warm water in a portable bath or bathtub for about 20 minutes. Avoid bubble baths.
  • Keep your genital area clean and dry, and avoid tight clothes.
  • Take over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Avoid aspirin.

Let your physician know if you are worried about your genital herpes. He or she can recommend a support group to help you cope with the virus.

One Option For Ongoing Therapy: Taking Drugs Regularly

Some people with genital herpes choose to take antiviral medication daily to reduce the number of symptom outbreaks they have. In some cases, daily therapy prevents outbreaks completely.

Numerous studies over the years have demonstrated the safety and effectiveness of all three of the approved antivirals used to treat genital herpes.

Studies have also shown that daily antiviral therapy reduces the rate of transmission from an HSV-2 infected person to an uninfected partner of the opposite sex.

Daily therapy also lowers the odds of infecting other people if you have multiple sex partners or if you are a man who has sex with men.

The drugs work both for people who have had herpes symptoms and for those whose blood tests show they have an HSV-2 infection but who have never had symptoms.

Some people choose to take antiviral drugs only as needed, for outbreaks that occur after the first one. For this to work, you need to start taking the medicine within one day of sores cropping up or during the time period that comes before some outbreaks.

During the prodrome, you may feel

  • Burning in the area where the virus first entered your body
  • Itching or tingling in that area
  • Pain in your back, buttocks, thighs, or knees

Your doctor will probably give you a prescription you can fill and keep handy for timely use, and tell you to start taking the drugs just as soon as symptoms begin.

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How To Avoid Transmitting Hsv

If you have a cold sore, be sure to wash your hands after touching it and be especially careful to avoid touching your own eyes after touching your cold sore. It is the fluid contained in the blisters that is considered to be the most infectious. While you have a cold sore it is also important to avoid:

  • sharing toothbrushes
  • sharing drinking glasses or bottles
  • sharing cutlery
  • sharing towels or other personal items
  • close contact with newborn and young babies
  • close contact with children with burns or eczema
  • close contact with people with suppressed immune systems.

What Causes Cold Sores

Herpes simplex (Cold sore): All you need to know

The herpes simplex virus type 1 causes cold sores. This is a different from herpes simplex virus type 2 . HSV-2 causes lesions in the genital area called genital herpes. Even though HSV-1 typically causes sores around the mouth and HSV-2 causes genital sores, these viruses can cause sores in either place.

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When Should I See My Doctor About Cold Sores Or Herpes

If you think you have oral or genital herpes, it’s important to see your doctor when:

  • You have another condition that weakens your immune system, making you susceptible to worse symptoms
  • The sores don’t heal within 7 to 10 days
  • Your cold sores appear more than a few times a year
  • Your sores show signs of a bacterial infection, including redness, swelling, or you have a fever

Where Does The Herpes Virus Live In The Body

The herpes simplex viruses are latent, meaning they can live in the body without causing symptoms. After the initial infection, the virus gets into the nerve roots and spreads to the sensory nerve ganglia, the junctions where nerves from different parts of the body come together. For the genital area, the ganglia are adjacent to the spinal cord in the lower back. For orofacial herpes , the ganglia are located behind the cheek bone.

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What Are The Risk Factors Of Contracting Hsv2

In case of genital herpes, you are more prone to get the infection if you get involved in risky sexual behavior without using protection, such as condoms. Some other factors that increase the risk for HSV2 are:

  • Having more than one sex partners

  • Getting involved in sexual activity at a younger age

  • Having a weak immune system

  • Suffering from another STI

Who Might Get Herpes Simplex

Cold Sores â Lordswood Medical Group

People of any age can contract herpes simplex. You are more likely to get the virus if you:

  • Were assigned female at birth.
  • Have had multiple sex partners.
  • Started having sex at a young age.
  • Have a history of any sexually transmitted infection .
  • Have a weakened immune system.
  • Dont use condoms for intercourse and dental dams for oral sex.

Who gets HSV-1, commonly known as oral herpes?

Anyone can get HSV-1. Most people contract HSV-1 during childhood. It spreads when an adult who has the virus has close contact with a child, such as when a family member kisses a child.

Who gets HSV-2, commonly known as genital herpes?

Genital herpes affects sexually active teens and adults of all genders and races. It can spread if you have multiple sexual partners and dont use condoms or dental dams.

People assigned female at birth are more at risk. Delicate vaginal tissue can tear, making it easier for the infection to get in. Black people who were AFAB are especially vulnerable, with an estimated 1 in 2 people AFAB between the ages of 14 and 49 infected with HSV-2.

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What Are Cold Sores Vs Herpes

Cold sores are small and sometimes painful blisters that occur around your lips and face. These sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus-1 .


Cold sores are caused by a strain of the herpes virus. However, while cold sores are part of the herpes virus, herpes is not limited to cold sores. There are multiple strains of herpes.

Generally speaking, genital herpes is caused by HSV-2 and is spread by sexual contact. Even though HSV-1 is credited to cold sores around the mouth and HSV-2 is credited to genital sores, both viruses can cause sores in either location on your body.

What Are The Differences

While both cold sores and genital herpes are part of the same family of viruses, there are some differences beyond where they typically appear:

  • Cold sores are usually spread through non-sexual contact, such as kissing. Genital herpes are typically spread through sexual contact.
  • Cold sores will often scab over, while genital herpes will often disappear without scabbing over.

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Can I Prevent A Fever Blister

Once you are infected, the HSV-1 virus never leaves your body. It lies dormant in the nerve cells in your skin until a trigger such as a cold or flu, excessive sunshine, cold weather or stress causes the virus to replicate uncontrollably, causing the telltale symptom of a cold sore or fever blister on your lips.vii

You can try to protect yourself against outbreaks by always drinking lots of water, getting plenty of rest, having your annual flu vaccination and managing cold sore triggers such as stress, fatigue, cold or excessive sunlight.

Herpes Outbreak Frequency: How Often Do They Occur

Canker Sores vs. Cold Sores: What’s The Difference?

People with symptomatic HSV-1 can have anywhere from several outbreaks per year to one every couple years or so, depending on the individual. Outbreaks tend to be worst during the initial herpes outbreak, as the body hasnt had time to produce its own immune response to herpes.

Oral HSV-1 outbreaks usually involve the development of cold sores around the lips and mouth. The sores usually begin as an itching, burning sensation before forming into small blisters over several days.

When cold sores caused by HSV-1 are open, they can weep out infectious fluid, leading to a high risk of transmission. Its best to abstain from kissing or sexual activity if you have an open cold sore, as theres a risk of infecting your partner with HSV-1 through direct oral contact. If your question is, âWhen is herpes contagious?â the answer is, âAll the time.âOpen cold sores are highly contagious, but even if youâre not experiencing an outbreak, itâs still possible to transmit herpes.

Our guide to kissing and cold sores goes into more detail about how you can reduce your HSV-1 transmission risk during an outbreak.

By acting quickly and treating a cold sore in the early stage, you may be able to limit its development and speed up the healing process. Our guide to how to get rid of a cold sore as quickly as possible and the list of foods to avoid during herpes outbreak covers simple tactics that you can use to quickly control an HSV-1 outbreak.

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