There is so much misinformation out there about oral herpes, or cold sores. Unfortunately, misleading info can keep patients from seeing treatment, and developing adequate treatment and management plans. That is why our Glendale dentists have put together this short article on cold sore development. We hope that you find this helpful!
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). HSV-1 is highly contagious; The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that almost 50 percent of adults in the United States have it. HSV-1 can be passed on by kissing, and by sharing drinks, eating utensils, or oral hygiene tools. Many people actually contract HSV-1 as children.
Most us of call the oral herpes called by HSV-1 “cold sores” or “fever blisters.”
- Usually, cold sores develop on the lips. However, it is possible for these sores to appear elsewhere on the face, like on the chin, cheek, or inside of the nose.
- Most patients will experience an outbreak shortly after HSV-1 exposure; this is called primary herpes. You may notice individual cold sores, or sore, swollen oral tissues. For some patients, they will never experience another instance of observable symptoms.
- People who experience recurrent oral herpes episodes will likely deal with discrete cold sores, which last for about 8 to 10 days. Generally speaking, subsequent episodes are milder than the initial outbreak was. Cold sores start out as tender, red, and sore, and then gradually crust over as they heal. It is particularly important that you not exfoliate or pick at these lesions; this can delay the healing process and cause scaring.
If you are dealing with cold sores, please don’t panic! This is a very common issue for both children and adults. Remember: these sores will heal on their own, so the best thing that you can do is to keep the area clean, use topical ointments to minimize discomfort, and otherwise leave it alone. You also want to refrain from kissing and sharing food/drink while the sore is active, as this is how HSV-1 spreads from person to person.
As always, our Glendale dentists are more than happy to answer any questions that you may have—give us a call to get started!