Home Health Do cold sores indicate herpes?

Do cold sores indicate herpes?


Some of us get that sore or blister on our lip that starts as a swollen area (mostly around the corner of our lips) with a burning, tingling or itching sensation accompanied by pain.

HSV-1 or oral herpes can be introduced to the genitalia through oral sex thus causing genital herpes: Photo / Courtesy

It alarms you that you’re going to catch a cold or gear up on the antibiotics.

Fever blisters
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Cold sores are also called fever blisters caused by the herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1).

They are very painful, contagious and occur on the lips, below or above the lips and, sometimes, under the nose.

So yes, cold sores do indicate you have HSV-1(oral herpes).

HSV-1 is transmitted orally or from oral contact that is why it’s not wise for you to let people kiss your baby because most herpes infections are asymptomatic (showing no symptoms).

WHO data

According to World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 67 percent (about 3.7 billion people under the age of 50 years) have oral herpes while an estimated 11 percent (about 417 million people aged between 15 and 49 years) have genital herpes.

HSV-1 or oral herpes can be introduced to the genitalia through oral sex thus causing genital herpes.

After an active phase of infection, HSV is likely to occur again, however, in less severity.

The greatest risk of transmission is just before the sore or blister appears, after it appears and until it is healed.

Africa vs. America

Africa has the highest cases of oral herpes with prevalence of 87 percent while America has the lowest, 40 to 50 percent. This is a report by the WHO.

The Herpes Simplex Virus is a long term condition and has no cure but is controlled and managed by drugs. Most infections are acquired in childhood especially in Africa.

It’s time to practice hygiene. While there is no cure for the current infections; stop kissing babies that are not yours and don’t allow your babies to be kissed by random people.

Admire cute babies, don’t kiss them!

Causes of HSV-1

  • Oral sex with someone who is infected i.e., oral-genital contact with an infected person
  • Unprotected sex (either vaginal or anal)
  • HSV-1 (oral herpes) can be transmitted from mother to infant during delivery.
  • Sharing sex toys.

Symptoms of HSV-1

  • Tingling and burning sensation before the appearance of the sores.
  • Blisters and sores around the lips and nose (Cold sores).
  • Swollen lymph nodes.
How it is treated

Doctors prescribe antiviral such as acyclovir on the first onset of infection as recurrent infections are usually not as severe.

However, you can incorporate home remedies such as;

  • Applying petroleum jelly on infected areas
  • Painkillers such as ibuprofen.
  • Washing hands after administering treatment or touching infected areas.

People with HSV-1 infections (oral herpes) are in the danger of acquiring HSV-2 infections (genital herpes) and should practice sexual and oral health.

They should seek out knowledge on the infections and make decisions wisely.

Knowledge is power.

By Sarah Nderi

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