Cold sores, also called fever blisters, are caused by an infection with the herpes simplex virus (HSV). These blisters can appear anywhere on your body, but they are usually around your lips, mouth, throat, cheek, chin, nose or fingers. You can get HSV when you come into contact with people who carry the virus, as in kissing.

What are the Symptoms for Cold Sores?

"Prodromal Symptoms" such as pain, itching, or tingling, often precedes the blisters by one to two days. You may have a a sore throat, or swollen glands in your neck. After the prodromal stage, blisters appear, they usually break open, and leak clear infectious fluid, and then crust over lasting 2–24 days.After the blisters form, they may break and ooze and eventually dry and form a yellowish crust or scab. This falls off after a few days and reveals new skin underneath.

How do I get Cold Sores or Oral Herpes?
Sexual contact (oral to oral, vaginal, or anal) is very risky during the prodromal stage, or the time before the blisters appear. At this time, it is also advised to refrain from unprotected sexual activity.

The virus is spread from person to person by kissing or other close contact with sores or even from contact with apparently normal skin that is shedding the virus. You do not have to be symptomatic in order to be contagious. You could be shedding asymptomatically. HSV usually enters the body through a break in the skin around or inside the mouth. Infected saliva is also a means of transmitting the virus.

Cold sores are usually HSV-1, but can be HSV-2. If a person has genital herpes, HSV-2 on their genitals, they can transmit that virus to another person to their facial area, if a condom or dental dam is not used while performing oral sex. A person can also transmit HSV-1 to another person’s genitals by performing oral sex without a condom or dental dam, while shedding the virus with an active cold sore. There is also asymptomatic shedding, where there are no visible sores, but transmission can still occur.

You can also spread your own virus by self-inoculation. Try not to touch your sore. If you touch an infected area that is shedding the virus on your own body, you can infect another area if you have not washed your hands before contact. The herpes virus is easily killed with soap and water. Once the virus has entered and infected the body, it remains dormant and there is no cure.

Are Cold Sores Dangerous?
Cold sores are very common. 90% of all people get at least one cold sore in their lifetime. This means they are infected with HSV and, if they are tested, would test positive for HSV. Most people are first exposed to HSV between ages 1 and 5 years of age, and more than half of people in the United States are infected with it by the time they become adults.

Most cold sores are not serious. Cold sores are serious when they spread to the eye, which can affect your sight. If the virus spreads to the brain, it could be very serious and lead to encephalitis or meningitis. Also, the infection can be life threatening for a person whose immune system is extremely compromised as with AIDS.

How Can I Treat Cold Sores?
Treatment can ease your outbreaks, but there is no cure. Beneficial products to help you manage and shorten the duration of your outbreaks are provided on this site. Lowering your arginine and iIncreasing your intake of lysine will help ward off outbreaks. Our H-Eraser is composed of a vegan based lysine with added bee pollen to encourage healing. Our H-Eraser+ is composed of 2 types of red marine algae. The carrageenans in red marine algae are thought to ramp up interferon production in the immune system, inhibiting the ability of virus to replicate and cause damage. Antiviral drugs can reduce viral shedding. By being aware and avoiding the causes and treating with the preventative products, you may decrease your recurrences and transmission to others.

How is Oral Herpes or Cold Sores Diagnosed?
You can get tested to know if you have herpes. Tests are available. Taking specimens by swabbing the blister is best in the first 24-48 hours before the blister has crusted over.

What causes Oral Herpes or Cold Sores to Recur?
The recurrent outbreaks are similar to the first infection, except they usually get milder with time. After the first cold sore, the virus settles into bundles of nerve cells in the body, causing no symptoms unless it activates and travels back up to the skin's surface. While the virus remains in the body for the rest of your life, the recurrence of cold sores is highly variable.Recurrent oral herpes usually involves just the lips, with the mouth and throat involved to a much lesser degree. Some factors which may induce an outbreak are surgery, illness, stress, fatigue, skin irritation (such as sunburn), alcohol, diet, and menstruation.

Herpes Whitlow
Herpes Whitlow, herpes occurring on the fingers, is often contracted from touching cold sores. Wrestlers have been reported to e infected with herpes from contact with infected opponents. Practice good hygiene and wash your hands as soon as possible after touching cold sores or sensitive areas in the prodromal stage to prevent spreading the virus.

Canker Sores
Canker sores are not the same thing as cold sores. Cold sores usually occur on the outer lip, but canker sores are found inside the mouth. Sometimes people mistakenly associate canker sores with cold sores. Oral Herpes usually appears on the roof of the mouth or the gum area. A sore in the soft tissue of the mouth is usually a canker sore.