Cold sores usually appear on the lips and are triggered by two types of viruses. While they are extremely contagious they are not dangerous. In this week’s edition of Healthy Living, a dermatologist explains that once you have the virus, you will not get rid of it, but there are treatment options to help you live with it. Marleni Cuellar, Reporting
Cold sores, Fever Blister, Night Fever: All titles bring to mind the unsightly blister like sores usually found on the lips or the area around the mouth. While commonly associated with common colds or cold weather as suggested by the name, cold sores are simply an outbreak of a very common virus. Dr. Ines Moguel is a dermatologist who works very closely with patients who have herpes simplex. She says it is very important to understand how the disease behaves.
Dr Ines Moguel, Dermatologist
“The proper name for a cold sore is herpes simplex. And herpes simplex is actually a combination of two types of virus and each virus have their own DNA and each of the virus cause a complex disease.”There are two types of Herpes simplex: Type 1 usually causes oral herpes, or cold sores. Type 2 usually affects the genital area. However, Dr Moguel explained that at least one of the genital herpes seen is caused by Type 1. This shatters one of the most common beliefs about this disease.INES MOGUEL
Dr Ines Moguel
“So, typically we use to say that herpes simplex type 1 would only cause symptoms above the waist which is not so while we use to say that herpes simplex type 2 mainly responsible for all the genital lesions.
“So one can still cause the other.
“Right. The patient itself, handling the secretions if its in the mouth you can also transmit to yourself like your fingers and if you have it on your fingers you can transmit it to other parts of your body as well. The other important predispositions is that there have to always be contact with secretion. The skin per se does not allow the virus to enter. So there have to at least be a small cut or it have to be contact of the saliva or the little drop from the respiratory system with an open area.”The highly contagious nature of the virus accounts for the large number of persons who have been infected. In most cases, at the time of the first infection there are no symptoms. So the first time you get a cold sore is not when you when you got infected.
Dr Ines Moguel
“When you get infected by the virus the symptoms can start as early as 2 days or as long as twenty-six days so you can take long to realize that you have been infected. But after the virus enters the system and multiply it have the ability to stay dormant in the lymph nodes. That virus will remain in the body right there sleeping until something upset the virus and make him to wake up and cause symptoms. The second infection or the recurrences they tend to have symptoms. The patient learns to listen to their bodies and they can actually know when the virus is going to have a new outbreak. Usually they will have tingling, itchiness, they’ll have burning and a few patients will have pain.”The blistering outbreaks, like the cold sores, usually follow. People who are infected with herpes should know the triggers of an outbreak.
Dr Ines Moguel
“So those problems that will trigger the virus are problem with the immuno system, changes in the temperature, mostly with the ultraviolet light its mostly because of the heat so fever will be a cause of that as well. Having stress, physical stress, people who are overworked. Emotional stress can also make the virus wake up and give you a next outbreak.”The proper diagnosis for herpes is through a blood test by your doctor. Herpes is a disease that has no cure. Acquiring the virus means living with it forever. Treatment options for cold sores would be to alleviate the symptoms of the outbreak. While anti-viral medication is used for controlling the condition.
“What we will accomplish with the treatment will be first of all to decrease the length or the duration of the outbreak, second to decrease the symptoms, third to decrease the possibility of transmitting to other relatives or patients and fourth to decrease the recurrences of the outbreak. It’s a disease that can be a bit invalidating. It’s a disease that can be prevented and there is medication for it so even though there’s no cure, there are medications that will help them have a more normal life.”