Learn what causes cold sores and some things you can try to prevent recurring outbreaks.
The Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) is ultimately what causes cold sores, an uncomfortable and unsightly infection that one in four people suffer from regularly. Once you’ve contracted this virus, you are likely to have recurrences throughout your life as the virus never leaves the body.
HSV has two types: Type One is mainly responsible for cold sores – oral herpes. Type Two causes primarily genital herpes, though it can also cause oral herpes.
The primary infection is often acquired in childhood and may result from close contact with someone who is infected. There may be no visible sign of the new infection or else a blistery ulcer could form on the lips; this may be painful and last for longer than a week.
When the infection appears to be over, the virus nonetheless stays in the body. It lies dormant in the trigeminal ganglion nerves, where it remains until it reactivates and cold sores reappear. Some unfortunate people will suffer from these HSV infections regularly; there could be only weeks between attacks. Others will never experience an outbreak after the first.
What causes cold sores to reappear?
You should try to identify stressors if regular infections occur; such triggers could be one of the following:
- Illness. Often cold sores accompany colds or influenza and persist for the duration of the illness.
- Being out in freezing weather or a cold wind can provoke an attack.
- Sunlight (UV light) is a common trigger for many outbreaks.
- Hormonal disturbances such as happen during menstruation can be the cause of a herpes outbreak.
- Impaired immunity which may be caused by cancer or by chemotherapy treatment; herpes outbreaks in such people may be more frequent and more severe.
Individuals who suffer recurring outbreaks of cold sores should try to avoid apparent causes. If you think sunlight is a trigger, then keep out of the intense sun as much as possible and be liberal with sunscreen on areas prone to cold sores. Protect your mouth area from cold and wind if you suspect they provoke an HSV response.
If you do suffer regular outbreaks, try out the different natural cold sore remedies on this site and see if you can find one which works well for you.