Cold sore flare-ups may be more common in adults, but they can happen at almost any age. It’s likely that you’ll contract the herpes simplex virus as a child. It may live dormant within you for a long time. Some people experience only one or two flare-ups in their lifetime. Others are more prone to frequent outbreaks. But, how are cold sores transmitted?
Unfortunately, there are are many ways to get a cold sore. They are extremely contagious. You may not even know you have HSV-1 until you experience a cold sore for the first time. But, it’s important to know possible causes, and what you can do to protect yourself.
Cold sores can be caused by everything from stress to hormonal changes. Extreme weather conditions and a weakened immune system can also trigger an outbreak. However, one of the most common causes for a flare-up is catching a cold sore from another person.
Until there is a cure for the herpes simplex virus, flare-ups will never be completely avoidable. However, knowing how they are transmitted can allow you to take precautionary steps. We often don’t think about the people we interact with each day, but if they have a cold sore, it’s necessary to be careful. As soon as you spot the signs of an outbreak, use the Virulite Device to reduce the healing time to just 72 hours.
How Do Cold Sores Spread?
This article will focus on several different ways in which cold sores are transmitted. We will also cover when they are the most contagious. Thankfully, there are things you can do to help protect yourself. Because cold sores are so common, there are also multiple treatment solutions to consider if you experience an outbreak. Let’s take a look at some of the common causes behind the spreading of fever blisters.
This may be one of the most obvious and most talked about cold sore triggers. However, that doesn’t mean it’s any less important. Far too many people still partake in some contact with someone who has a blister. They may not know the person is contagious, or they may think they are ‘immune’ to flare-ups.
Kissing someone is a fast way to catch the virus. However, touching someone on the face, or even their hands can be a problem. You can even spread the virus on your own body if you have an existing blister. Whenever you touch your face near the affected area and then touch other parts of your skin, you could be spreading it. Wash your hands, and avoid touching your face. Additionally, avoid direct skin-to-skin contact with anyone else who has one.
You can get a cold sore from kissing a pet, but you are at risk of other diseases and infections.
If your partner or someone you spend a lot of time with frequently gets outbreaks, it’s not unreasonable for them to let you know you should avoid touching them for a while. A cold sore is contagious at multiple stages. Even if it doesn’t look bad, you can still contract it from someone else if you’re not careful.
Sharing Utensils & Other Items
You don’t have to touch someone in order to catch their virus directly. It can also occur if you touch something that has been infected by them. This commonly includes things like:
- Cold sore creams
If you live with someone who has a cold sore, you should avoid sharing all of these items. It’s best to avoid it altogether but is necessary if that person has an active blister. Additionally, you can take precautions with these items if you have a cold sore yourself.
Things like toothbrushes and makeup may need to be thrown away after the cold sore has cleared up. The virus can live on inanimate objects for awhile. So, even if the blister is gone and you use that object again, it may cause a flare-up.
Other objects like cups and utensils should be fine once they are properly washed and sanitized. Improper handling and use of these objects can cause a flare-up to recur continuously.
We don’t usually think about all of the objects we touch in a day. But if you touch a cold sore and then something else, you could be contaminating that object. Or, someone else could be contaminating it, spreading the virus the next time you touch it. This isn’t completely avoidable, but you can help by washing your hands frequently or using hand sanitizer.
Spreading the Virus Through Treatment
Cold sores will go away on their own, but most people seek out a treatment to speed up healing, such as the Virulite Device or HERP-B-GONE Cream. The right kind of treatment will also alleviate pain and discomfort from many irritating symptoms.
However, being conscious of how you use and apply your treatment is important. Many solutions come in the form of a cream or gel. These usually come in tubes/bottles that require you to apply the ointment directly to the sore.
Unfortunately, there are two specific ways these treatment options can cause more harm than good. If a solution comes with an applicator, like a wand or brush, you may be contaminating the rest of the medication after putting that applicator back in the bottle. If the treatment requires you touch any part of the bottle or tube to the cold sore, it could be doing the same thing.
Never use the same applicator on a cold sore more than once. The best way to apply these types of medication are with a Q-Tip, or your fingers. If you do apply with your fingers, be sure to wash your hands immediately. If a treatment becomes contaminated, not only will it slow down healing, but it could cause the virus to spread.
When are Cold Sores the Most Contagious?
Cold sores are most contagious at the oozing stage. This is where the blister will burst open, and liquid will come out. After this, it will start to scab or crust over. This indicates healing. However, when the blister is ‘opened’ during these stages, it becomes more contagious.
While it may be obvious to stay away from someone who has a cold sore during these stages, common myths are surrounding the timeline of a contagious blister. Cold sores can be contagious at any stage. They can even be spread before a blister is even present.
Because cold sores can be contagious at any stage, learn to recognize early signs. These include tingling or itching around the affected area. When you do experience initial symptoms, start a treatment plan right away. The right treatment will speed up healing time. Sometimes, you may even be able to prevent a blister from forming if it’s caught early enough.
Ways to Prevent HSV-1 from Spreading
It’s not possible to prevent cold sores if you have the herpes simplex virus. It’s also not possible to know what you might be touching that already has the virus on it. The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to take as many precautionary measures as possible. Keep the following tips in mind to reduce your overall risk of a flare-up:
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Avoid touching your face if you have a cold sore.
- Never itch a blister that is oozing or scabbing. This can cause it to break open even more. Not only will it create more irritation, but may put you at risk for a bacterial infection.
- Start treatment if you have a cold sore.
- Alleviate symptoms to reduce your desire to touch the blister.
- Practice healthy lifestyle choices. A weakened immune system caused by improper diet or nutritional deficiencies makes it harder to fight off the herpes virus.
- Reduce your stress levels.
- Protect yourself from extreme weather conditions, like UV rays or harsh cold.
- Properly wash or get rid of anything potentially infected by the herpes virus.
Again, these precautions may not protect you completely. But, if you want to reduce your chances of an outbreak, they can help. If you still experience a cold sore, using these tips can help to lessen its severity, and may speed up the time it takes to heal.
Is it Possible to Avoid Cold Sores Completely?
As long as you have the herpes simplex virus inside you, it’s impossible to avoid cold sores completely. You may not realize you have if you’ve never had a fever blister before. You may only experience one or two throughout your life. Some people, however, get frequent flare-ups. Many of those flare-ups will be transmitted through another person or an object.
The good news is that cold sores go away on their own over time. Unfortunately, they can be painful and embarrassing in the time it takes for them to heal. Because they are so easy to catch, multiple treatment options have become available over the years. Some of these treatments, such as the Virulite Cold Sore Machine, can even work in just 1 to 3 days when applied early enough.
The tips given in this article can help to protect you from frequent flare-ups. One of the best things you can do is keep a treatment around at all times. The earlier a cold sore is caught, the less painful it will likely be, and it will heal faster. When a blister heals faster, there are fewer opportunities for it to spread to other people.