Cold Sores: Myth vs. Fact

Cold sores appear on and off the faces of a large portion of adults across the world. These pestering blister-like lesions occur in different sizes and rarely cause severe medical issues. However, without proper treatment, a simple cold sore often spreads to other areas of the body and to other individuals. Knowing even the most basic information about cold sores will help the individual avoid the burden of frequent outbreaks and limit the chances of spreading the virus that causes them.

Myth: Cold Sores Always Appear in the Same Size and Location.

Fact: Cold sores, which carry other names such as fever blisters, appear on and off of the face in clusters of blisters, small and large. The surrounding area will usually elevate and become red and sore. If cracked or broken, these clusters will usually secrete a colorless fluid.

Myth: Cold Sores Never Disappear.

Fact: A cluster of blisters will eventually disappear. However, individuals infected with the Herpes Simplex Virus, type 1 or 2, will always possess the ability to develop a sore outbreak. Usually, cold sore outbreaks go away after the sores scab over. Medications also help reduce the size and length that the sores remain on the body.

Myth: Everyone Will Get a Cold Sore, Eventually.

Fact: Cold sores only appear in those individuals that contain the Herpes Simplex Virus. In many cases, cold sores will never appear on an individual's body, even if he or she does have this specific herpes virus. Certain factors trigger cold sore outbreaks, and those that avoid known factors will face less, or even no outbreaks at all.

Myth: Herpes and Cold Sores Are Two Completely Different Things.

Fact: Cold sores act as a form of herpes. In fact, a cold sore serves as an alternate definition for a single cluster of a herpes virus outbreak. Although many people associate herpes with a sexually transmitted disease, cold sores and herpes both stem from the Herpes Simplex Virus.

The first type of this virus generally causes cold sores around the facial region. The second type of the Herpes Simplex Virus is often associated with more severe consequences, as this type causes more infections to the genital regions. Both types of the herpes virus will possess the ability to infect any region of the body if not treated.

Myth: A Cold Sore Infection Will Only Spread through Open Wounds.

Fact: The Herpes Simplex Virus will travel from one individual to the next through both saliva and blood transfer. Many people obtain the herpes virus and develop cold sores after sharing food or food utensils with someone else that possesses the virus. However, the herpes virus will generally not transfer during the times when an individual does not have a cold sore or a herpes outbreak.

Myth: You Will Only Know You Have the Virus If Cold Sores Occur.

Fact: Doctors will perform tests on individuals that suspect an HSV infection. Most patients will undergo a simple test in which a medical professional places cells from a sore into a culture to check for HSV growth.

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