If I have a cold sore, how long is it contagious?

If you have a cold sore, it will be highly contagious the entire time it is visible. It will be most contagious when fluid begins to leak from the blister or blisters that have formed. This fluid contains the infectious virus that causes cold sores. When you have a cold sore, don't share anything that touches your lips, such as cutlery, dishware, or towels. And if you happen to touch the cold sore, wash your hands right away.

As long as you have a cold sore, the virus is still contagious. An outbreak of oral herpes should go away in about one or two weeks. During this time, do not kiss or share personal items with anyone to prevent spreading the virus.

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.