Cold Sore Igniters and Predisposing Factors

Mar 02, 2023 By Madison Evans


Cold sores are painful blisters that appear in or around the mouth, most often on the lips. Cold sores are contagious; if you've had one, you probably will get more of them before you die.

That's because the herpes simplex virus is responsible for triggering cold sores. As soon as you contract HSV, the virus immediately makes its way to the nerve cells in the area, where it can remain latent for a very long time.

The virus might start reproducing again and cause another cold sore if the right conditions are met. It's not always clear what causes cold sores, and they often arise at the most inopportune moments.


There are often numerous phases to a cold sore:

Tingling And Itchy Sensations

Many people's lips experience itching, burning, or tingling for a day or two before a tiny, hard, painful patch forms and blisters break out.


Often, fluid-filled blisters will appear around the lip border. They can also appear on the inside of the lips, the nose, and the cheeks.

Continual Oozing And Crusting

It's possible for the blisters to grow together, break, and leave shallow open wounds that will flow and eventually crust over.

Whether this is your first attack or a recurrence, the symptoms will be different. When you get a cold sore for the first time, it might take up to 20 days from the time you were exposed to the virus before you notice any symptoms. Blisters and sores may take up to three weeks to fully heal. The recurrences usually occur in the same place and are milder than the initial outbreak.


Herpes simplex virus type 2 is responsible for most cold sore virus cases (HSV) cases. Cold sores are often caused by herpes simplex virus type 1. HSV-2 often causes genital herpes. But kissing and other forms of oral intercourse can transmit either kind to other body parts, including the face and genitalia.

The herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1) might be transferred through shared towels, razors, and dining utensils. Since the virus spreads rapidly through contact with infected bodily fluids, cold sores are most infectious while the blisters flow.

The virus does not require blisters to propagate. It's estimated that up to 90% of people who are infected with the herpes simplex virus never show any symptoms at all.

  • Fever or viral infection
  • Menstruation and other hormonal shifts
  • Stress
  • Fatigue

Variables of Uncertainty

The chance of developing a cold sore is high for nearly everyone. Even if they've never experienced a cold sore, most individuals are carriers of the virus that produces them. When your immune system is already compromised due to things like:

  • Dermatitis atopica
  • Chemotherapy for cancer
  • Organ transplant rejection medications


The herpes simplex virus can spread to other parts of the body, creating further complications in certain people.


Fingers are a common target for the transmission of herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2. Herpes whitlow is a common name for this virus. Little children who often suck their thumbs may spread an oral infection to their thumbs.


Sometimes, the virus will cause an infection of the eye. Scarring and damage from repeated infections can hamper or even destroy eyesight.

Larger Patches Of Skin

Atopic dermatitis is a skin disorder that increases the likelihood of widespread cold sore outbreaks in affected individuals. A medical crisis may develop.


If you have cold sores more than nine times each year or are at high risk for serious consequences, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medicine for you to take daily. Use sunscreen on the area where the cold sore often appears if you find that exposure to sunshine brings on recurrences.

Instead, if you know you'll be engaging in behaviour like severe sun exposure, discuss with your doctor the possibility of utilizing an oral antiviral medicine as a preventative measure. The following are some measures that may help prevent the spread of cold sores to other persons or other regions of your body:

  • Don't kiss or touch blisters. As the blisters start to bleed fluid, the virus can spread rapidly.
  • Do not borrow from others. When blisters are present, the virus can be spread using common household goods, including spoons, towels, and lip balm.
  • Don't forget to wash your hands. Carefully wash your hands after using the restroom and before handling anything, especially a baby, if you have a cold sore.

How Do Cold Sore Patients Fare?

Most persons with cold sores can control and manage their outbreaks. In otherwise healthy adults, cold sores often disappear after a week or two. Nevertheless, infants, persons with weak immune systems, and those with eczema are particularly vulnerable to the potentially fatal infections that cold sores can cause.

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