Cold sores: what is it, symptoms, causes and treatment

It is quite likely that at some point you have suffered an annoying and uncomfortable fever. Although medically his correct name is that of herpes labialis, it is true that not only is it also known by the name of labial fever, but simply in turn with the denomination of oral herpes.

It is an extremely common infectious disease, which is estimated to affect more than half the population of the United States by the time it reaches the age of 20.

In fact, as reported by the World Health Organization some time ago, it is estimated that 67% of the world's population is infected with the virus that causes the herpes labialis, estimated at more than 3,700 million people under 50 years of age.

What is labial herpes? What does it consist of?

It is an infection caused by a tremendously contagious virus called herpes simplex (HSV). So far, two types of herpes simplex have been identified. On the one hand we can find herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1), which is the cause of cold sores. And on the other hand with type 2 (VHS-2), which is the one that tends to affect the genital area (known in this case with the name of Genital herpes).

As many doctors say, the two types of herpes simplex are highly infectious and incurable, which means that they are easy to transmit from one person to another, and have no cure (but treatments that help in their symptoms, although it is true that cold sores tend to disappear by themselves in a couple of weeks).

There are differences between the transmission of both viruses. And while herpes simplex type 1 is transmitted mainly by oral-oral contact (ie, mouth to mouth), the herpes simplex virus type 2 is transmitted or transmitted through sexual transmission, through skin-to-skin contact.

What are the causes of cold sores?

The infection that causes the appearance of cold sores or oral is caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1, the mouth being the most common infection zone. It can be easily contracted when, for example, we come into close personal contact with an infected person, especially when there is an active outbreak or an active (and visible) herpes lesion.

Thus, we can establish two forms of transmission of this virus:

  • By direct contact: that is, through intimate or close personal contact with the person infected with the virus.
  • By indirect contact: for example, when touching an open herpes lesion or any utensil that has been in contact with it, such as towels, dishes or razors.

What are your symptoms?

When a first infection with this virus occurs there are some clear symptoms that help to easily diagnose that an infection with herpes simplex has occurred. These symptoms appear between 1 to 3 weeks after contact with the virus, and can last up to 3 weeks.

Before the most obvious symptoms appear, some signs may appear, such as sore throat, fever, swallowing discomfort, and swollen lymph nodes.

The most common symptoms are the following:

  • Itching and burning that feels around the mouth or on the lips.
  • Tingling sensation in the area of ​​the mouth or near the lips.
  • Blistering or rash on the lips, gums, mouth or throat.

It is usual that after a first infection this virus is 'numb', remaining latent and inactive in the different nervous tissues of the face. But nevertheless, sometimes it can be reactivated and produce new fever, although in these cases tend to be less severe.

And how is the treatment?

We must bear in mind that generally the symptoms disappear without medical treatment in 1 to 3 weeks approximately. Although in case of appearing pain, burning and itching there are certain drugs that help fight the virus, while the symptoms disappear more quickly.

In case of blisters or rashes (which are more evident) antiviral drugs are recommended, that help treat canker sores. The most useful are Famciclovir, Valaciclovir and Aciclovir. ThemesInfections

What are cold sores from? (February 2024)