Cold sores, also called as fever blister are small painful blisters that suggest the sign of herpes simplex outbreak. It is estimated that around 80-85% of the total world population will have herpes simplex sometimes in their life. Although cold sores are mild compared to other viral infections, they can cause extreme physical discomfort and have tremendous negative effect on social life. It not only impact the lives of the sufferers, but also those of family members and relatives. Cold sores are generally seen on lips, mouth and inside nose. In some cases like immunocompromised people (those with HIV Aids, Diabetes, Cancer) they may even occurs inside mouth, but for normal healthy people its rare.
What causes cold sores?
Cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 and 2. More than 90 percent of cases are caused by type 1 virus (HSV-1) and few percent accounts for type 2 (HSV-2). HSV-2 virus causes genital herpes in human. What are the triggering factors of cold sores? Based on two factors, internal and external factors herpes simplex virus can be triggered anytime during the life. Internal factors are those which can’t be prevented while external factors may be prevented and avoided. Below are some of the triggering factors for herpes simplex virus.
Internal factors that triggers herpes reactivation
- Infection with another virus like flu and common cold
- Minor infections
- Metabolic diseases like diabetes and thyroid disorders
- Factors or diseases that suppress your immune system
- Gastrointestinal disorders
External Factors that triggers herpes simplex reactivation
- Excessive prolonged sun exposure
- Anxiety, stress and other emotional disorders
- Prolonged and excessive dryness of the lips
- Some allergic reactions
- Cold or chills
- Any physical injuries
- Dental procedures
There is no cure for herpes; once you are infected with herpes simplex virus, it stays inside your body forever. Most of the herpes infection are acquired during childhood and stays inactive inside your body until certain factors like above mentioned triggering factors reactivates it. Good thing is that, if you avoid such triggering factors and are immunocompetent cold sores may not return and you could live a normal healthy life.
- Do not squeeze bite or pick the blisters
- Avoid foods that are acidic in nature and avoid salty, spicy foods
- Avoid sharing day to day applications like towels, razors, lips balm etc.
- Herpes simplex is highly contagious, avoid kissing or other oral activities during the breakouts
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