Cold sores are one of the most common viral infections. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, more than half of Americans ages 14 to 49 carry the virus that causes cold sores. Cold sores may appear repeatedly for those who have the herpes simplex virus (HSV) whereas others may just have it once in their lifetime. It is important to know what can trigger cold sores and what the precautions are if you do have HSV. Exposure to the sun, a cold, fever or flu, stress and fatigue are all known to prompt cold sores. Other factors such as hormonal changes due to pregnancy or menstruation and facial trauma caused by cosmetic surgery or dental work can also spark a cold sore.
HSV stays in your body even after the cold sores clear. Since the virus is highly contagious, here are some simple tips for keeping everyone around you healthy if you’re experiencing a breakout:
- Don’t kiss people
- Don’t share beverages or food with other people
- Avoid intimate contact
- Don’t share personal items that come in contact with the infected area
- Try not to touch your cold sores
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has a weakened immune system
Cold sores can take from a few days to up to a couple of weeks to heal. Some cases can be resolved by using prescriptions and over the counter medicine. However, if you get cold sores frequently and would like to receive a prescription or more information about them from a dermatologist, please click here to schedule an appointment.