Are cold sores herpes


Herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and it’s quite common. Although herpes does cause small, painful blisters that often turn into sores – it’s not always a visible infection so the only way you’d know whether you have herpes or not is if you go for a STI screening. Something that has long been associated with herpes is cold sores (sores around the lips) so it’s understandable if you’re worried that you or your partner might be affected. Here’s more:

Cold sores are generally associated with Herpes  

You may have first heard that cold sores are caused by fruit or something else that you eat. However, cold sores are actually herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1). Herpes simplex virus-1 usually causes sores around your lips, in your mouth or the inside of your nose. Herpes simplex virus-1 is a little different to herpes simplex virus-2, which causes genital sores and is sexually transmitted.

How does someone get cold sores?

Although herpes is known as a STI, cold sores are not always sexually transmitted. For most people who get, or have gotten, cold sores – they most likely got them when they were young. Cold sores are often spread to children by others (probably an adult) who have the virus.

You won’t always develop a cold sore if you have herpes simplex virus-1, but you can have the virus. Sometimes the virus can stay dormant in your body for a long time without you knowing. What often causes symptoms of the virus to activate are certain stressors like fever, stress, sunlight, cold weather, menstruation, pregnancy, certain foods and medications or other infections.

It’s important to know that cold sores are highly contagious so if you or someone close to you has a cold sore, avoid kissing or touching near the sore. It’s also important for you and your partner to get screened for STIs so that you can avoid infecting each other. Herpes can also be passed on through oral sex so avoid having any sex without protection and treatment.

Having a cold sore is nothing to be ashamed of because it could happen to anyone. Most people develop cold sores as children so they can’t be blamed for it. However, it’s good to just be aware that it can be contagious so it’s best to get treatment from your healthcare practitioner if you do develop a cold sore. Also avoid any sexual activity with your partner without protection or treatment and avoid sharing lipsticks, lip balms or objects that you use close to your mouth with others.  

Remember, if you or someone you know needs help or advice, you can message me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).