Cold sores, fever blisters, oral herpes are 3 names for the same thing – a blister or sore on the face – normally occurring on the outer edge of your lip or nose.
“Cold sores” is the most common term used for these hideous, painful and contagious facial sores. Herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2 are the root cause of cold sores. About 80% of cold sores are caused by type 1. Type 2, although primarily the cause of genital herpes sores, is responsible for about 20% of facial cold sores.
Cold sores are “location specific”, occurring in roughly the same place each time. The herpes virus is normally latent, or asleep, in the nerve ganglia behind the jaw on the same side of your face as your cold sores occur. Fortunately herpes virus does not travel internally to infect other locations – but stays put in the area where first contracted.
Cold sores, when in full blossom, look like a hideous explosion on you lip or nose. Fact is – that’s pretty close to how cold sores are actually formed.
If you’re a science fiction fan like me, you’ll notice that a lot of these shows are based on the idea of alien creatures using humans to reproduce. The alien creature “infects” the human body with their seed. When the young are ready for birth, the human host is destroyed to release the new alien creatures. The herpes virus replicates in the same way.
Cold sores are the result of the reproduction process of the herpes virus. This virus, unlike bacteria, cannot reproduce on it’s own but must have a host. A single herpes virus enters a nerve cell and forces that cell to create, or clone, many copies of itself. The original virus then destroys the host cell to release it’s young. This “explosion” of millions of cells in a close area produces the massive cold sores.
Cold sores are very painful because the herpes virus has a particular affinity for nerve cells. Herpes virus travels the nerve fibers like a highway to the surface and create the cold sores on the end of those nerves. If you’ve ever had a dentist hit the end of a nerve while drilling – well, it’s pretty much the same feeling when your teeth hit the cold sores.
Cold sores are very contagious from the first tingle to the last red spot. Even your saliva and nasal fluids (and on rare occasions even vaginal fluids) can contain the herpes virus at this time. As a result, nearly 89% of the world population is infected with type 1 or 2 herpes virus.
Touching your cold sores or kissing can cause a new site for cold sores on yourself – or someone else. Contaminated fingers can also transfer the cold sores virus to objects such as telephones, faucets, and towels. The virus can live on these objects for days under the right conditions. Use extreme caution, especially during the weeping and crusting phases of your cold sores.
Symptoms of cold sores begin with a tingling, dryness sensation, burning, and/or itching. Cold sores then progress to these stages: a group of tiny blisters form, enlarge, and burst to create one large open sore. In 2 or 3 days a crust forms over this open, weeping sore and the healing begins. The skin heals, the crust falls off, but there is still healing going on below the new skin – which leaves a red spot for up to 2 more weeks before cold sores are considered totally healed.
The entire event for most people averages 3 to 4 weeks – depending on their current health and on the treatments these folks used during the various stages of the cold sores.
For cold sores there is nothing currently available from medical science or natural science that will eliminate the herpes virus from the body. If you want to be cold sore free for life – the secret you must know is keeping the virus asleep.
Without any treatment, the body will cure the cold sores through it’s own natural healing process. There are a wide variety of effective home treatment remedies that will GREATLY hurry up the healing of your cold sores – or actually prevent the outbreak from happening altogether.
Cold sores over-the-counter medications have not been shown to shorten the life cycle of cold sores. However, these lip balms and salves do provide much comfort and help prevent secondary bacterial infection of your cold sores.