Just like all medical conditions, there are MANY myths about cold sores online that people assume are accurate. Word spreads quickly on opinion-based websites and forums, so false information is immediately accepted as the truth.
Avoiding these misconceptions enables you to avoid spreading the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) to other areas of the face and body, and to others. It will also allow you to use the right OTC medicine to heal your fever blisters faster.
Unfortunately, finding out the facts about cold sores isn’t always easy. We’ve answered many common queries in this question and answer session(FAQ), but you can also find out more falsehoods in this in-depth guide.
Table of Contents:
We will attempt to debunk ten of the most common cold sore myths while also offering you some valuable advice.
While a 2013 study conducted by the University of Edinburgh does suggest those who have cold sores suffer from a gene mutation, fever blisters are not hereditary. Research has concluded that only that those with the problematic gene are more susceptible to HSV-1 transfer.
In respect to the myth that individuals can pass down blisters, that is not the case. Even in the scenario of the questionable gene, the HSV-1 transfer still must take place. The notion that you have cold sores because your father does, for example, is factually and medically incorrect.
While genital herpes is classified as an STD, cold sores (blisters that develop on the mouth and lips) are not.
The wording “sexually transmitted disease” is critical to understand. Unless your HSV transfer took place during oral sex, your blister is not an STD. A majority of cold sores occur from non-sexual behavior.
If you have HSV-1, you are susceptible to cold sore outbreaks. Worrying about labels and public stigma can only lead to unwanted stress.
Cold sores are born from a virus, and the blisters themselves have distinct traits and development stages. While cold sores do form blisters, just any “run of the mill” blister is not a cold sore.
Our lips, generally speaking, often feel the brunt of our behavior. It is common for most people to deal with minor shaving cuts, abrasions, bumps, and even blisters on a somewhat routine basis.
Understanding the basics of what a fever blister is and how/why it forms can help you better identify your lip blister.
While it would be much easier to avoid a potential HSV-1 transfer if this was correct, but unfortunately it is not. Cold sores are contagious from the initial tingle stage (prodrome), which is the first sign of lip discomfort, through to the final healing stage.
It is because of this fact that many people are exposed to HSV-1. Without visual cues, it is impossible to recognize a problem. In fact, many HSV-1 carriers are often blind to their initial symptoms. This is especially true for those experiencing their first outbreak.
Per Johns Hopkins Medicine, an estimated 50-80% of all adults in the United States have oral herpes. More alarming, the National Institutes of Health estimates that 90% of all adults will be exposed to HSV-1 by the time they turn 50.
So, not only is contracting the herpes virus not rare, you are lucky if you do not have the virus. This is all the more reason why it is so important to understand the basics of HSV-1 and how you can protect yourself.
Although kissing spreads HSV-1, it is not the only way to pass on the virus to others.
Direct saliva-to-saliva contact and saliva to broken skin contact is how HSV-1 is transferred. Infected saliva, from the carrier, will enter the membranes of your lips and mouth. Just the slightest abrasion on your lip can be manipulated by infected saliva.
Listed below are just a few ways, other than kissing, that HSV-1 can be transferred. All of these examples involve saliva to object or saliva-to-skin transfer.
While cold sores must follow a life cycle of several defined steps, that cycle can be sped up by OTC treatments. The notion that the healing time of a cold sore can never be advanced is a falsehood.
Cold sores can appear on various parts of the body. While lip/mouth infections are common due to mouth-to-mouth contact, fever blisters can develop elsewhere.
Cold sores can appear on the genitals as a result of partaking in oral sex with an HSV-1 carrier. Fever blisters can also appear on the fingers, cheeks, chin, and around the eyes. This can be the product of mouth to skin contact.
It is not uncommon for well-meaning parents to infect their infants in this fashion. Loving kisses can result in a viral transfer.
The unfortunate occurrence of viral spreading is also a potential issue. This occurs when you have an active blister on your lip, touch the cold sore, and then rub your eyes, face, etc. The result is contaminated skin away from the initial transmission location.
Cold sores are due to a virus. Canker sores are painful nodules that form on the inside of the mouth. The two are not related and have nothing directly in common.
While the exact cause of canker sores is unknown, they are usually the byproduct of stress, minor tissue injury, or the consumption of spicy and acidic foods and beverages. Frequent gum chewers often develop canker sores because oral cavity tissue has been disturbed. Individuals who have undergone extensive dental work (braces) can also fall victim to cankers sores.
While it should be noted that some canker sore development can be related to a serious underlying condition, this is quite rare. The vast majority of canker sores are just a mere inconvenience and a source of annoying minor discomfort.
Herpes simplex one, the virus responsible for cold sores, has no cure. Once you become infected, you will have it for the rest of your life.
Although the virus will likely remain dormant far more often that it is active, there is no cure for the virus itself. While it is common for infected individuals to have a harshly symptomatic first outbreak, painful side effects typically subside with future recurrences.
For the vast majority of sufferers, especially recurring sufferers, the blisters are the only symptom. This is why selecting a proven treatment is so important. You can heal cold sores fast if you are armed with the right OTC medication.
Whether you are in the midst of your first cold sore outbreak, a recurrence, or if you have never dealt with a fever blister, so much can be gained through education. Numerous myths can be easily debunked by reading about the herpes virus and how cold sores are born.
The topic of fever blisters often comes with a touch of fear. This is due in no small measure to lack of education on the subject and a bounty of misinformation. Although cold sores can become problematic, much of the unease is based on myths being passed down as facts.