Characterizing Cold Sore Symptoms Before They Characterize You
What Causes Cold Sores? (Trust Us, You Want to Know)
It's nice that they usually warn you before popping up. But those tiny tingles and trifling throbs don't make it any easier to wake up with cold sores. If you've ever had cold sores on lips, you know what a menace they can be. And let's be honest, they don't look great (in fact, they're kind of gross). Plus, they hurt. To top it off, cold sores, contagious little buggers that they are, spread easily if you share utensils, straws, towels, lipstick and other objects that come in to contact with your lips. So avoid cold sore catastrophes by washing your hands often and finding some other way to express "sharing is caring" — at least until your cold sores are gone. Be sure to check out some cold sore treatment while you're at it. Although cold sores can't be cured, some prescription medications may help reduce the amount and severity of outbreaks. Keep reading for more cold sore clues!
Q: Are cold sores curable?
A: Cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), which means there is no cure. However, there are many cold sore treatments to help minimize outbreaks or shorten their duration or minimize the pain of cold sore blisters.
Q: Are cold sores the same as canker sores?
A: It's common to mistake cold sores on lips for canker sores and vice versa. Truth is cold sores are different: They appear on the lips and face and are caused by a virus whereas canker sores appear on the inside of the mouth and are not associated with a virus. And unlike cold sores, canker sores are temporary and neither permanent nor contagious.
Q: How do cold sores spread?
A: If there are two words that best describe cold sores, contagious and common fit the bill. But your cold sores, contagious as they may be, don't have to become your loved one's problem too. With careful attention, the cold sores virus can be contained. Here's how to spare others: Avoid sharing, drinks, cups, utensils, towels, lip gloss (and anything else that touches your mouth). Keep in mind that a cold sore can spread to different parts of your own body too. So it's also important to wash your hands often and avoid touching an active cold sore and then touching another part of your body — especially your eyes.