What causes cold sores
Cold sores are a highly contagious common illness, caused by a strain of the herpes simplex virus called Type 1 (HSV-1). There are two types of Herpes Simplex Virus:
HSV1 – the most common type usually causing cold sores (oral herpes)
HSV2 – causes genital herpes
In most cases, the virus is passed on in early childhood, for example when a child is kissed by someone with an active cold sore. The cold sore virus goes through the skin and travels up the nerve, where it will lie dormant until triggered.
Who gets cold sores?
- Around 80% of the UK population carry the herpes simplex virus but for many people the virus lies dormant in the nerves and never develops into cold sores on the lips or mouth
- 1 in 5 people in the UK have frequently recurring cold sores
- Cold sores affect all age groups. The vast majority of individuals will suffer their first attack between 10-19 years of age, but a cold sore can be triggered at any stage of your life
Cold sore triggers
Cold sores will not usually appear until after puberty when one of a number of reasons might contribute to an attack, such as:
- General stress – fatigue and tiredness
- Colds or other viruses that lower the body’s immune system
- Emotional upset
- The onset of menstruation and changes in hormone levels
- Changes in weather – strong sunlight in the summer and cold winds in the winter
Did you know?
The symptoms and stages of a cold sore attack can be different for everyone. You may show no symptoms at all. You may have trivial symptoms such as a small spot, which you do not realise is a cold sore. A cold sore outbreak may start with a tingling sensation around the mouth, chin, nose or other areas of the face. For most people cold sores can disappear within a week to 10 days.
Reference: www.netdoctor.co.uk and www.nhs.uk