Nearly 80 percent of Americans have been exposed the virus that causes cold sores, but not ever body experiences breakouts. In this edition of Healthy Living, our Marcie Fraser reports.
"Cold sores usually occur on the outside of mouth, around the lips and is caused by the herpes simplex virus," said Dr. Christian Mathiesen, Dentist.
They are called cold sores because they often appear when a person is sick and people say they know when they are about to get one.
"A sense sometimes of a tingling and sometimes an irritation, a reddening before actually see any kind of an ulceration," said Mathiesen.
Once you contract the virus it is there forever. A person may experience only one break out during their entire life while others have re-occurrences, most often in the same area.
"You will see some ulcerations and sometimes you will see fluid out of the area as the ulcer occurs and it becomes crusted over," Mathiesen added.
Cold sores should not be confused with a canker sore, canker sores occur inside the mouth. Have stress? You may experience another breakout.
"Stress brings it on, stress is factor to reactivate those viruses, stress, illness," Mathiesen went on to say.
Prevent the virus from spreading by keeping your hands clean, don't share towels or wash clothes and if you have an open sore, don't kiss others who might not have been exposed, especially babies.
The cold sore can last up to two weeks, but if you able to begin treatment fast, you could dramatically short cut your healing time.
"If patients are concerned because of esthetics or because they are going to a want to go to a big function and they want to heal a little faster we will prescribe topical anti-virals, Denivir or acylovir and they will cause these lesions to heal twice as fast," Mathiesen said.