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FAQ Frequently asked questions
What is a cold sore?
Cold sores, sometimes referred to as oral herpes, are small blisters or lesions on the mouth, which are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV).
Are cold sores contagious?
The herpes simplex virus that causes cold sores is contagious. The viruses spread through contact with blisters or saliva from an infected person.
What causes a cold sore?
Cold sores are caused by an infection with a virus called the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two different forms of the virus that can cause cold sores, HSV1 and HSV2.
How are cold sores treated?
Medicated antiviral creams, solutions or tablets, containing acyclovir, famciclovir or valacyclovir, may help to reduce the severity and duration of cold sores. They work by preventing the virus from replicating, which gives the immune system a better chance of …
What can trigger a cold sore?
An outbreak of cold sores can be caused by stress, sunlight or wind exposure, having a cold, the flu or another infection, and menstruation.
Can cold sores cause genital herpes?
Yes, cold sores around the mouth can sometimes spread to the genitals during oral sex, resulting in genital herpes.
About this article
Author: Dr Joanne Van der Velden PhD, BSc (Hons)
First answered: 22 Sep 2014
Last reviewed: 14 May 2019
Rating: 4.0 out of 5
Votes: 2307 (Click smiley face below left to rate)
Category: Cold sores