Touching a cold sore can spread the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) to other areas of the face and body. It can lead to a bacterial infection and complications. It’s the reason why fever blisters take longer to heal and why scarring can happen.
Although it seems natural to touch a cold sore with your fingers or tongue, it should be avoided (if possible). It’s not going to heal your open blisters any faster. If you’re more prone to outbreaks than other people, this is likely to be one of the main reasons why it’s happening.
You should only make contact with a cold sore when you’re applying a treatment, such as Abreva cream. This is necessary during the prodrome (when you notice a strange tingling feeling). When you’re done, you MUST wash your hands immediately. Don’t touch your chin, cheeks, near the eyes, your genital region, etc. until your hands have been thoroughly cleansed.
In this guide, you will find out more about the risks, when a cold sore is contagious, and how to stop the herpes virus from spreading.
Table of Contents:
Licking an active cold sore has the potential to spread the virus to the tongue. It’s uncommon, but it can happen.
Although spreading the herpes virus to the front of the tongue is rare (it’s far more likely to be a canker sore), you still need to be careful.
Oral herpes is significantly more difficult to treat when it affects the tongue. It will also be more painful than cold sores near the mouth due to the regular consumption of hot and cold food.
Oral herpetic lesions are typically treated with oral antiviral medications.
Cold sores can spread to the eyes, fingers, cheeks, chin, nose, and other areas. This is likely to be due to touching an active sore. You can also transfer the herpes virus during oral sex.
Although medications can treat cold sores that spread, the objective is always to keep all blisters quarantined. This is another reason why it is best to leave cold sores alone. Cold sores near the eyes and eyelids can have dangerous complications.
If you have kissed someone with a cold sore, the likelihood of viral transmission is high. Luck could be on your side, but the odds of contracting HSV-1 from a person with an active sore mean that it’s inadvisable.
It is only safe to kiss someone once the healing process has been fully completed. If your partner has an active sore, wait until the blister has gone away entirely and new skin has taken its place. Even testing the waters during the scab stage is not recommended. The virus should have cleared up completely within two weeks.
Once the viral transfer has taken place, most people experience their first outbreak within two days to two weeks.
Because immediate transfer includes no symptoms, new HSV-1 carriers are often caught off guard when blister symptoms appear. Typically a tingling or burning sensation at the transfer location is the first sign of an impending issue.
Once lip tingling occurs, you need to begin treatment without delay. The quicker it is applied, the faster you’ll heal. While there is no way to halt the life cycle of a fever blister you can speed up the process. FDA-approved blister treatments, like Abreva cream, can heal sores within a matter of days.
Bacteria that enter the sore, usually due to touching, can lead to infection. Although infected cold sores can be treated, infections typically result in longer healing time. They can take up to a month or longer to heal.
In severe cases, blisters that are infected require professional medical treatment. Physicians often prescribe an antiviral medication to clear up the infection and expedite the healing process.
Infected fever blisters can also produce more intense symptoms. A headache, fatigue, nausea, and ear pain are not unusual. These symptoms are also quite similar to those who are in the midst of a primary cold sore outbreak.
While the ulcer stage is the most contagious, many people are infected during the tingle and scab stage. This is partly due to the fact of not knowing an outbreak is underway and the notion that a scab prevents viral transfer.
The easiest way to prevent viral spreading is to leave the cold sore alone (don’t touch it). Understanding the basics of fever blisters, when they are contagious, and how they spread can be helpful.
If you have an active blister is it critical to treat it and let the medication do the work. Additionally, it is important to tell others about your contagious state. An estimated 50-80% of everyone in the United States has HSV-1. Letting others know that you are contagious is essential if you have a partner, children, and close family living with you. Many people find it hard to bring up the subject of cold sores when dating.
The rule of the day is to fight your curiosity and refrain from touching a cold sore. Think of a cold sore as a hot stove. Touching the site of a cold sore comes at a price. If you stay away, you won’t spread the virus, and you’ll heal faster.
By applying an FDA approved OTC medicine at the first sign, your sore can be healed in days.