Posted on March 12, 2020 at 12:00 AM
Similar to a cold or the flu, the HSV-1 virus (commonly referred to as oral herpes) could be brewing inside your body long before you show any symptoms. It leaves you with the ability to get through such viral germs even without any signs of a debilitating rash bursting through the skin. The result: You may feel uncomfortable contaminating your girlfriend, friends, or family with one single smooch.
For the uninitiated, cold sores "are small painful blisters that may occur around the lips, neck, or nose. Then the blisters are sores which can cause painful feeding. They're packed with blood, but they crust over and shape a scab until they leave, "says Gretchen Frieling, MD, a Boston, MA board-certified dermatopathologist.
HSV-1 may lie dormant for months and even years until it is caused by heat, sun exposure, cold temperatures, fever or other inflammation into a full-blown cold sore. A day or two before a cold sore formally emerges on your face, you will usually feel some pain, itchiness, or tingling in that area, which is the result of the nerves being infected by the replicating virus.
"During an epidemic of symptomatic oral herpes[ when a cold sore is visible], HSV-1 is most contagious, but can also be spread without symptoms," says Dr. Frieling. It means that if you have a cold sore, or if you begin to feel signs and think one might be on the way, it's best to steer clear of kissing someone.
If you are struggling with regular cold sores, consult your doctor or dermatologist to discuss your options for treatment. We can give you an antiviral drug such as valacyclovir (Valtrex brand name) or acyclovir (Zovirax brand name) to help prevent future outbreaks. You can also get a prescription for cold sore or refill online through Blink Health — start your digital appointment with a licensed clinician for $5
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