Many of us have had a cold sore at some point in our lives. Some people experience outbreaks at least a few times a year. Although more than half of the population suffers from cold sores, many of us are still mystified about what causes them and how to prevent them. The following are the most common myths about cold sores, exposed:

Myth: Cold sores are the same as canker sore

Fact: Many people mistake cold sores for canker sores when in fact, they are different. Canker sores are types of ulcers that occur inside the mouth, tongue or gums. Unlike cold sores, canker sores are not a virus and therefore, are not contagious.

Myth: Cold sores are caused by a cold

Fact: Cold sores are not directly caused by having a cold but can be triggered by being sick. When we have a cold or other illness the immune system is weakened and it is harder for the body to fight off the cold sore virus.

Myth: The only way you can catch a cold sore is by kissing someone who has one

Fact: It is true that cold sores can be passed on by kissing an infected person, but this is just one of the many ways a cold sore can be spread. It can also be passed on by sharing cups, utensils, razors, towels or other items that come in contact with the infected person’s saliva or cold sore blisters.

Myth: Cold sores have nothing to do with genital herpes

Fact: Cold sores and genital herpes are both caused by the herpes simplex virus but are caused by different strands of the virus. However, it is possible to spread cold sores to the genitals and vice versa through oral or genital sex.