When people get cold sores, they tend to blame them on their cold, probably because of the name. However, it is good to note that a different virus than the one that causes you to sneeze or sniffle causes cold sores, and it is referred to as Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). This virus is transmitted between individuals through skin contact or saliva.
Most people get infected with the virus before the age of 10. After this initial infection, the virus remains inactive in the body. However, it might become active in some individuals, causing the appearance of cold sores. This article gives an in-depth analysis regarding where cold sores come from, and how to get rid of them.
The Herpes Simplex Virus
As aforementioned, cold sores are caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus. The virus is highly contagious and can be spread from one person to another through close contact or kissing. It can also be spread through contact with any part of the skin shedding the virus. Drinking from the same cup as an individual with the virus can also get you infected, as it can be spread through infected saliva.
The Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) is highly contagious when an individual has active blister-like sores. After they blisters have dried up, the risk is immensely reduced. It is good to note that the virus can be spread even when the cold sore is not present, because it can also be shed in saliva. Despite many myths, it is very hard to catch cold sores from contaminates towels, washcloths, and surfaces.
After the initial exposure, the virus gets into the nerve cells and travels upwards until it reaches the ganglion. While there, the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) stays in a dormant stage and starts multiplying. At times, the virus will travel down the nerve, causing cold sores and blisters.
Cold Sores Triggers
The exact way in which cold sores appear is not clear. However, several conditions have been linked to the recurrence of cold sores. These include:
Fatigue can cause the appearance of cold sores because it drains your immune system. When your immunity is weak, cold sores can launch a sneak attack. When you are feeling tired, consider resting and you will rarely experience those nasty cold sores.
- Weak Immune System
When your immunity is weak, you are more likely to experience cold sores. Therefore, you should consider taking the right precautions to make your immunity strong. Some of the best ways to do this include consuming nutritious foods and working out regularly.
- Cold Weather
Dealing with cold weather might also mean that you have to face your cold sore virus. You can avoid an outbreak of cold sores by understanding the weather conditions that could trigger cold sores. During cold seasons, consider dressing up for the weather, consuming fluids, and staying indoors as much as you can.
- Hormonal Changes
Most women experience hormonal changes, caused by their menstrual cycles. These changes can trigger an outbreak of cold sores. As a woman, you should watch out for the signs, to treat your cold sore early.
- Excessive Sunlight Exposure
Ultraviolet rays from the sun not only damage your skin, but also trigger cold sores. If you have to go out during sunny days, consider wearing a wide-brimmed hat, and using a lip balm with good SPF. This should help prevent cold sores due to hot weather.
- Dental Trauma
Cold sores can be very stressful and frustrating, and paying your dentist a visit could trigger them. You should consider working with your dentist to minimize chances of an outbreak. The best way to do this is talk to your dentist about cold sores, so that they can know their right measures to take with you.
Stress is another cause of cold sores appearance. This is because it messes with your emptions, wearing down your immune system. This offers a chance to the inactive cold sores to reappear. When you feel stressed, you should consider doing stress management to minimize instances where cold sores might appear.
What are Symptoms of Cold Sores?
Cold sores can often be mistaken to normal pimples. Therefore, it is important that you understand their exact symptoms. Some common symptoms include blisters or lesions on the mouth or tongue, lip swelling, pain in the mouth or tongue, swallowing complications, sore throat, nausea, headaches, high temperature, and swollen glands.
How to Treat Cold Sores
Most cold sores clear up by themselves within a period of 1 to 2 weeks without the need for treatment. However, you can use different treatment options to lessen the pain and symptoms. Some popular treatments for cold sores include:
Antiviral creams can help lessen the duration of a recurrent infection. These creams are highly effective if applied just after the cold sire appears. For the best results, consider applying around 5 times per day.
- Treatments to Relieve Discomfort
There are some medications that you can use, which do not necessarily contain antiviral medication. Examples of these include Cymex, Blistex, and Bonjela. These three can great help to minimize discomfort.
- Treatments to Relieve Pain
Paracetamol containing medication like Tylenol and Ibuprofen helps eliminate pain because of cold sores. Although they do not accelerate the healing process, painkillers are effective if the cold sores are painful.
Preventing Cold Sores
It is hard to prevent a cold sores outbreak. However, if your cold sores are triggered by exposure to sunlight, you should consider using sunscreen. Additionally, taking antiviral medications can greatly help to minimize their frequency. If you already have cold sores, you should avoid skin contact with other people, sharing lip balm and towels, and touching susceptible parts of the body like the eyes. If you happen to touch the sores, consider washing your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap.
Cold sores are small blisters that appear on the lips, cheeks, chin, and inside the nostrils. They are caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) and are often triggered by fatigue, stress, a weak immune system, excessive sunlight exposure, and hormonal changes in women. These sores are quite hard to prevent, but you can take several measures such as minimizing your exposure to sunlight, and avoiding contact and sharing personal items with people who have them.