It is believed that approximately 80% of Americans have the cold sore virus. Of that number, approximately 20% will have an outbreak. But what exactly is a cold sore, where do they come from, and why do they break out every now and then?
Cold sores are also known as fever blisters or to give them a medical name Herpes Simplex 1. There is also a Simplex 2 but this is genital herpes, and although they belong to the same family, they are slightly different. Regardless of the fact that they are different, simply because they both come from the herpes family people mistakenly believe that they have a cold sore because of sexual activity. This is not the case as cold sores are very common in children as well as adults.
One of the key issues that you need to be aware of with a cold sore is that they are highly contagious when they break out. If you suffer an outbreak please be considerate and refrain from kissing or having oral sex with your partner. Other precautions you should take when you have an outbreak is not to share any eating utensils or napkins. In fact the virus is so contagious that I would recommend that you should avoid sharing the following as well :
Drinking out of the same glass as someone else
Sharing a towel
Sharing a razor
Using the same pillow as someone who has an outbreak.
Now I appreciate that may all seem a little extreme, but really, the virus is that contagious. For instance it is documented that one of the ways it spreads so quickly among children is by them touching their effected area with their hand and then touching the hand of another child who inadvertently then puts their hand around the mouth area.
So now you know what the virus is, what is it that triggers an outbreak? Well there are several factors that can spark a cold sore off. The most common are when you are tired or stressed . Other times they can be triggered are if your immune system is down from say a cold or flu (although they are not called cold sores because of this). One final thing to add to this is that once you have the herpes simplex virus, it is with you for life as at present there is no cure.