What Causes the Dreaded Cold Sores?

cold sores

How many times have you or someone you know shrugged off cold sores? Perhaps you said you were “just getting sick” or “must be coming down with something.” You are right, but not in the way you may think.

Cold sores are sometimes called fever blisters. They manifest around and on the mouth and lips. They are clusters of tiny fluid-filled blisters. When the blisters finally break, they form a crust over the sore. They will usually disappear on their own in a couple of weeks to a month.

What Cold Sores Really Are

The HSV-1 virus causes cold sores. This is the same virus that is known as oral herpes. Contrary to popular belief, cold sores are not a symptom of the common cold. They are an entirely different virus.

The accompanying bodily symptoms of fever, body aches, and swollen lymph nodes may have helped to further this belief. Those symptoms, however, are common for a herpes outbreak. Other common symptoms also include a sore throat and a headache. It sounds eerily like the common cold, but it is not.

Antiviral medications may help ease symptoms sooner or reduce the number of outbreaks. But there is no cure for HSV-1. There are no cures for cold sores. A person is highly contagious when an outbreak occurs. Even if you do not see the cold sores, you are still contagious and can pass the infection.

Final Thoughts

Cold sores do not have the same social stigma as herpes, though they are the same thing. This misconception is based on incomplete or faulty information about so-called cold sores. Regardless whether you call them cold sores or herpes, it is still a contagious viral infection.