What Causes Cold Sores?
Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, appear as groups of small blisters on and around the lips. The blisters may break, leak clear fluid then scab over, while the skin around the blusters may be swollen, red and sore. Cold sores can take anywhere from a few days to two weeks to heal.
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). In some instances, cold sores may be caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), however in most cases HSV-2 appears around the genital area. Per the world health organization, 67% of the population are infected with HSV-1, however many people never experience outbreaks. The herpes virus is spread through contact, when a person touches a cold sore or the infected fluid through direct contact with skin or saliva of an infected person. Cold sores can also be spread to other parts of the body.
There is no cure for the herpes virus, which is holed up in the nerve ganglia cells until a flare-up is activated.
We have compiled a list of the causes of cold sores, and some tips to help prevent a flare up.
Kissing an Infected Person
A common myth about cold sores is that once they have scabbed over that they are no longer contagious. However, this is not the case. A cold sore may scab and shed several times before it’s healed, and during this scabbing period, cold sores are still very contagious.
Most cold sores last for 7 to 10 days, which is considered the contagious period. To be sure, a cold sore should be completely healed before it can be considered to no longer be contagious. While you can catch HSV from someone who does not currently have a cold sore, the virus is far less likely to be transmitted during this time.