The herpes simplex type I and sometimes type II virus are the sole causes of cold sores.
Normally, HSV I occurs above the waist and HSV II occurs below the waist.
However neither genital nor oral herpes are site specific.
This means that both types can infect any part of the body via:
- Skin-to-skin contact.
- The transference of vesicle fluid from an active lesion.
- From contact with infected body fluids such as saliva.
People can even infect other parts of their own body via a process known as "Autoinoculation" (self infection).
For example, an infected toddler may get a painful herpetic whitlow on the fingers by sucking the thumb, or a person may contract genital herpes by picking at a fever blister and then touching their genitals while going to the bathroom, and so on.
If you touch your eyelid with an infected finger, it could result in Herpes Keratitis (eye herpes) … and that could lead to blindness.
In rare cases, it could even infect the brain.
- Do not touch that cold sore.
- Become a compulsive hand-washer during an outbreak.
- Avoid contact with another person who has an active cold sore or genital lesion.
How the Herpes Virus Becomes Dormant
After the primary infection, the herpes virus retreats down the nerve to the nearest neural junction known as a "ganglion".
In the case of genital herpes, the ganglia is located at the base of the spine; in the case of a cold sore or fever blister, at the tip of the jawbone behind the ear.
Once there, the virus goes into a dormant state.
It can remain inactive for months or even years, until something triggers it back into activity.
It then travels back up the nerves to the surface of the skin where it either causes a cold sore outbreak or indulges in viral shedding.
Known Cold sore triggers:
- Stress, which tends to lower the bodies' immune defenses.
- Upper respiratory infections such as colds or 'flu (leading to fever) – hence the common titles of' cold sores' and 'fever blisters'.
- Changes in hormonal balance during menstruation.
- Ultraviolet light from overexposure to sun resulting in sunburn.
- Over exposure to wind.
- Trauma to the skin.
- Dental procedures or surgery.
- Overindulgence in Arginine rich foods such as chocolate, nuts and seeds.
- An acidic inner terrain (bodily pH below 7.365).