Also known as oral herpes or “fever blisters”, cold sores are one of the most common types of viral infections. More than 50% of adult population in the US has herpes labialis, which is usually caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). Although the symptoms, transmission, and treatment of oral herpes are well known, there are less known facts and misconceptions about this condition which make it harder to detect and cure.
Fact #1: The First Outbreak Is the Worst
The first time a person contracts herpes is known as the “primary attack”, and can sometimes come with severe symptoms. The first attack of herpes may cause bleeding gums, fever, and painful sores around the mouth. However, future occurrences are rarely accompanied by such serious symptoms.
Fact #2: They Can Lead To Complications
Although most cases of oral herpes don’t require medical attention, if left untreated this infection can sometimes lead to more serious conditions. Research shows that encephalitis and pneumonia can both be severe complications of this virus.
Fact #3: They Are Not Only Linked to Common Cold
One of the most familiar cold sore facts is that common colds often cause them. However, after the first attack, the virus resides in our body as a latent virus. The attacks can then be triggered by stress, fever, sunlight or menstrual period.
Fact #4: Recurrence Is Often
According to research, at least a quarter of us experience recurrences of oral herpes. Wash your hands frequently and avoid kissing, as well as sharing personal items with other people who have active cold sores.
Fact#5: They Can Show Up Anywhere
Although they usually pop up around the mouth, cold sores are not limited to this area. For some people, symptoms can show up on the chin, cheeks, nose, or even fingers. This is known as oral-facial herpes.
Now that you’re familiar with some more cold sore facts, you can increase your chances of preventing and managing them. Remember, if your symptoms seem to be getting worse, contact your doctor so he or she can create an adequate treatment plan.