Cold sores are a highly contagious viral infection that manifests as blisters outside the mouth. According to Dr. Caceres of Mark Caceres Dentistry in Marietta, GA, herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) is the causative agent of a cold sore. It is very easily spread from person to person through skin or saliva contact.
There are several different names for cold sores, such as fever blisters or oral herpes, but they all refer to the same highly contagious viral outbreak. Once exposed to the virus, you remain a carrier for the rest of your life, although triggers for outbreaks can be avoided and managed, such as stress and compromised immune systems.
Prevalence of Cold Sore Virus
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly half of the United States population between the ages of 14-49 suffers from the cold sore virus. Not every individual that is affected has clinical signs, and some carriers of the virus are asymptomatic.
Cold sores are highly infectious and contagious, and are transmitted through direct contact with the lesion. Kissing, sharing lip balms, and even sharing towels with an infected individual are all risk factors for transmission.
During an outbreak, it’s advisable that you avoid touching the lesion with your hands to avoid the risk of transmitting the virus to other body sites, such as the eyes or nasal cavity. Presently, the cold sore virus has no cure, but a treatment course of antiviral prescriptions from your dental team can alleviate the disease severity. If you suffer from outbreaks of cold sores, schedule a consultation with Dr. Caceres today. You can improve your quality of life with less outbreaks!