Cold Sores








Cold sores are small fluid-filled sores that develop on the skin, lips or mouth in single or multiple clusters. They are caused by the herpes simplex virus.



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There are two forms of herpes simplex viruses, type 1 and type 2. In the past, type 1 only caused sores above the waist and type 2 only below the waist. Now, either type can cause sores anywhere on the body. The type 2 virus tends to be more severe than type 1.



There are two phases of herpes infection. The first eruption is called primary herpes. It’s usually contracted in childhood. This first eruption may be mild or severe, but it often affects large areas of the mouth. It always affects the gums. Any eruption that occurs at a later time is called secondary herpes. I's actually a reactivation of the virus rather than a new infection.

Normally, a previously uninfected child comes in contact with an adult that has a sore and acquires the virus from them. Rarely, an adult will acquire the virus from someone who has a sore.



The time of tingling that occurs before the sore erupts is called the prodrome. A person is capable of spreading the virus anytime from the prodrome to the time when the cold sores are completely crusted over. It isn’t known whether herpes can be spread by touching something an infected person has touched or by sharing a glass.

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