Herpes labialis, more commonly known as cold sores, is a viral infection caused by the herpes simplex virus. It results in the appearance of painful, fluid-filled blisters on the lips, mouth, or gums. The condition is highly contagious and can recur frequently.

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Herpes Labialis (Cold Sores) FAQ


What causes herpes labialis?

Herpes labialis is caused by the herpes simplex virus, usually type 1 (HSV-1). It is highly contagious and can be transmitted through close personal contact.

How long do cold sores last?

Without treatment, cold sores typically last 7-10 days. However, antiviral medications can help reduce the duration and severity of the outbreak.

Are cold sores contagious?

Yes, cold sores are highly contagious, especially when the blisters are oozing fluid. Avoid close contact with others to prevent the spread of the virus.

Can cold sores be cured?

There is no cure for the herpes simplex virus. However, antiviral medications can help manage and reduce the frequency of outbreaks.

How can I prevent cold sore outbreaks?

Maintaining good hygiene, avoiding close contact with individuals during active outbreaks, and managing stress can help prevent cold sore recurrences.

What are the common triggers for cold sore outbreaks?

Common triggers include stress, fatigue, sun exposure, hormonal changes, and a weakened immune system.

Can I apply makeup over a cold sore?

It is best to avoid applying makeup over a cold sore, as this can slow down the healing process and increase the risk of spreading the infection.

Is it safe to kiss someone if I have a cold sore?

It is best to avoid kissing when you have an active cold sore to prevent transmitting the virus to your partner.

When should I see a doctor for cold sores?

If you experience frequent or severe cold sore outbreaks, consult a doctor for proper assessment and management.

Should I avoid certain foods during a cold sore outbreak?

Spicy, acidic, and salty foods can irritate cold sores. It's best to avoid these during an outbreak.

Can cold sores affect other parts of the body?

In rare cases, the herpes simplex virus can cause cold sores to spread to the eyes, fingers, or other areas of the body. Seek medical attention if you experience this.

Do cold sores only occur on the lips?

While cold sores commonly appear on the lips, they can also develop inside the mouth, on the gums, or on the roof of the mouth.

Can children get cold sores?

Yes, children can get cold sores, usually through close contact with an infected adult or another child.

Can cold sores cause any complications?

In rare cases, particularly in individuals with weakened immune systems, cold sores can lead to complications such as spread of the virus to other parts of the body.

How can I soothe the discomfort of a cold sore?

Applying a cold compress, using over-the-counter pain relief options, and keeping the affected area clean and moisturized can help alleviate discomfort.

Can I still go to work with a cold sore?

If you have a cold sore, it's best to avoid close contact with colleagues to prevent the spread of the virus. Consider working from home if possible.

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