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Cold Sores

Cold sores are caused by a virus called herpes simplex. They usually appear around the mouth and on the lips. They are highly contagious but not dangerous. On average, people who get cold sores have 2 or 3 episodes a year, but this figure can vary from person to person. The most common cause of cold sores is herpes simplex 1 which many people have dormant inside of them.

Triggers include: cold weather, fatigue, fever, hormonal changes, stress, sunlight or sunburn, or the common cold. Try to limit exposure to the triggers. You can also catch the virus if you’re in contact with the cold sore blisters. It can also occur through sharing personal items that have been contaminated by the blisters. Once the blisters have stopped oozing or have crusted over, the person is no longer contagious. Complete healing takes from 8 to 14 days.

Areas other than the lips can also be affected. It is possible to spread the virus to other parts of your body if you touch the blisters and then elsewhere. Cold sores inside the mouth can be problematic, interfering with talking and eating. And if the virus infects the eye, it can damage the surface leading to vision loss.

Herpes simplex 1 never goes away completely, so cold sores can return if they are triggered again. A doctor should be seen if lesions are present for more than 14 days, if the lesions occur more than 6 times a year, or if you have a cold sore in addition to a condition that weakens your immune system. Cold sores go away on their own, but some medications may be helpful for preventing the progression of cold sores or for treating cold sore pain. Speak to your local Pharmasave pharmacist for more information on medication, or if you have questions!