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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.
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.
How can I prevent getting cold sores?
To prevent contracting the herpes simplex virus that causes cold sores: Avoid kissing someone with a cold sore; Avoid oral sex if your partner has genital herpes; and; Avoid sharing food, cutlery and other personal items of people with cold sores.
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: 19 May 2018
Rating: 4.4 out of 5
Votes: 288 (Click smiley face below left to rate)
Category: Cold sores