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Are cold sores contagious?

Cold sores (caused by a common virus called the herpes simplex virus) are very contagious, particularly from the time the blisters appear until they have completely dried and crusted over, so if you have one, avoid close contact with others. If you have any eye irritation along with a cold sore, tell your doctor immediately, as herpes simplex can cause scarring of the cornea and blindness if it spreads to the eye.
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Allergy

Cold sores, otherwise known as fever blisters, are caused by a virus called herpes simplex. These infections are contagious and are commonly spread through kissing. Cold sores may develop inside or outside the mouth, as well as on the chin or in the nostrils, and they often come back in the same location. Canker sores are commonly mistaken for cold sores, but they are not contagious.

Cold sores are very contagious. They are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1. The initial infection (primary herpes) may be confused with a cold or flu and can cause painful lesions to erupt throughout the mouth. Once a person is infected with primary herpes, the virus stays in the body and causes occasional attacks.

Cold sore blisters usually heal in a week by themselves. Over-the-counter topical anesthetics can provide some relief. Your dentist may prescribe antiviral drugs to reduce these kinds of viral infections.

Continue Learning about Oral Herpes (Cold Sores)

Oral Herpes (Cold Sores)

Oral Herpes (Cold Sores)

If you have a cold sore then you have been affected by the contagious virus herpes simplex type 1, otherwise known as oral herpes. Herpes simplex type 1 differs from herpes simplex type 2, which will usually cause sores in your ge...

nital area. If you have oral herpes you may never notice any symptoms. Or, you may develop painful sores on your lips or other facial areas that last for many days. To relieve the pain of your cold sores, consider pain-relieving ointments, as there is no medical cure for oral herpes. However, if your cold sore does not clear up within one to two weeks, visit your doctor to make sure there is no underlying bacterial infection.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.