Cold sores are external manifestations of a herpes infection.
Learn here how to help speed up the healing process, identify cold sore triggers, avoid contamination of others and reduce the symptoms. Compeed® may have the answers to all your needs regarding cold sores.
What are the triggers of a cold sore? And what can I do?
Although there is no cure for cold sores, you can control the pain, the severity of the outbreak and you can help speed up the healing process, manage the symptoms and fight outbreaks by using Compeed’s dedicated cold sore products.
Herpes is a virus. And like most other viruses, herpes can be spread between human beings. What makes herpes different from some other viruses is that a herpes infection is forever. With other common viruses, like those that cause colds or the flu, the virus is eventually destroyed entirely by the body’s immune system. Not so with herpes. The herpes virus sits at a place in the body called Ganglion, a knot of nerves that are unreachable by the body’s defences. Every so often the herpes virus replicates itself and moves along a particular path to the body’s surface. This is known as an outbreak or a cold sore. When the herpes virus manifests itself in this way, it is usually killed by the host’s immune system. But the herpes virus always maintains enough of itself in its bodily hiding place so that it is able to live on — at least as long as its host.
How many herpes viruses are there?
The word “herpes” is taken from the Greek word “herpein” which means, “to creep.” The herpes simplex viruses are double-stranded DNA viruses that only infect humans. There are many types of herpes simplex viruses but two more predominant ones:
Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1)
Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2)
A person can be infected with one or both herpes viruses. Typically, HSV-1 infections predominantly occur on or near the lips of the mouth and HSV-2 infections occur in the genital area.
What causes cold sores?
The cold sore virus (HSV-1) is usually contracted during childhood.
Nearly 80% of the adult population has the virus, but only 20% experience outbreaks. These can be triggered by several factors including:
Low immune system
Cold or flu
Extreme weather (cold/heat)
Exposure to sun
How to treat cold sores?
Current cold sore outbreaks can be treated with creams and hydrocolloid patches. The COMPEED® cold sore patch instantly hides, protects and relieves pain while achieving comparable healing time to commonly used anti-viral 5% cream *.
* Karlsmark T, Goodman JJ, Drouault Y, Lufrano L, Pledger GW. Randomized clinical study comparing COMPEED® cold sore patch to acyclovir cream 5% in the treatment of herpes simplex labialis. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2008; 22 (10): 1184-1193
How common are cold sores?
A cold sore is an extremely common condition: Research shows that almost 90% of all people over the age thirty have tested positive exposure to HSV-1 at some time in their life, and over 20% of people consequently have a cold sore outbreak every so often. Chronic cold sore outbreaks can be a painful, aggravating condition.
Are cold sores contagious?
Yes. During an outbreak, the HSV-1 is present, and can be easily transferred from one person to another through kissing or sharing a drink. COMPEED® Cold Sore Patch will seal around the cold sore and helps prevent the virus from spreading while healing and touching the affected area, thereby greatly reducing contamination.
How do you get cold sores?
The Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 generally causes cold sores. The virus is usually contracted early in childhood. Unfortunately, our body’s immune system isn’t able to completely get rid of the infection and the virus remains in our body, usually hidden in the Ganglion, a knot of nerves in the brain. While there is no definitive understanding of how a cold sore is triggered there is a common understanding that an outbreak can be triggered by a number of external factors such as: sun exposure, stress, cold weather, fever, cold or flu, fatigue or hormones. Cold sores are spread through direct, intimate physical contact with an infected person.
When are cold sores most contagious?
Cold sores are most contagious during an outbreak. They are spread through direct intimate contact, usually kissing.
How can you prevent cold sores?
Though cold sore outbreaks can’t be prevented, the following may minimise spread of cold sores and reduce the frequency of outbreaks:
Always wash your hands before and after touching the cold sore lesion.
Avoid kissing, sharing drinks and lip products until the cold sore has healed.
If you know the triggers for your cold sore, try to minimise your exposure. For example you can apply lip balms with SPF if your cold sores are triggered by extreme weather.
It is not possible to avoid infection of the Cold Sore Virus or to completely avoid future outbreaks.