Almost the whole world has the cold sore illness in their system: about 90% of all adults worldwide test positive for the virus, even if they’ve never had symptoms.
You know what they look like and how they can spread, but here are ten weird things you might not have known about cold sores.
1) Carriers Can Be Invisible
Cold sores are contagious, even if you don’t see the sores. The cold sore virus can be spread through contact with someone who has the virus, even if they aren’t having a visible outbreak.
2) They Don’t Stay In One Place
Cold sores can affect your mouth or your genitals, and can be spread from one to the other- they don’t just stay in one place. Both viruses can break out in both areas.
Luckily, although there is no cure for cold sores, anti-virals can help reduce outbreaks.
3) They Can Occur On Your Nose or Cheeks
Cold sores usually occur around the mouth but they can also occur around your nose or on your cheek.
4) They’re Regulars
Like the locals at the neighborhood bar, cold sores typically break out in the same spots each time you have an outbreak.
5) It’s More Than a Sore
It’s not just about an oozing sore. During a person’s first outbreak, things are worse. Often, people experience others symptoms like:
- Painful eroded gums
- Sore throat
- Muscle aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
6) It Can Look Like a Canker
Is it something else? Children under 5 years old may have cold sores inside their mouths and not know it. Children’s lesions are commonly mistaken for canker sores.
7) The Virus is Spreading on That Towel
Shared eating utensils, razors and towels, as well as kissing, can spread the oral virus, HSV-1. Oral sex can spread HSV-1 to the genitals and HSV-2 to the lips.
8) Sunlight and Wind Can Trigger Them
You may have heard that stress can trigger cold sore outbreaks, but did you know that a woman’s period can too? Hormonal changes, such as those related to menstruation, fatigue, changes to your immune system and even exposure to wind and sunlight can all trigger viral outbreaks.
9) They Can Make You Go Blind
It isn’t common, but a cold sore can make you go blind. Yikes! The virus can sometimes cause eye infections if it spreads up your face. Repeated infections can cause scarring and injury, which may lead to vision problems or blindness.
For people with weakened immune systems, the virus can also affect organs such as the spinal cord and brain.
10) There Are Alternatives
Anti-virals available from you doctor are often used to treat cold sores, or many times, the sores go away on their own.
But what if you’re not into medication but still want some extra help for your body?
The Mayo Clinic states that these alternative medicine treatments for cold sores can help:
- Lysine. An amino acid, lysine is available as an oral supplement and as a cream.
- Propolis. Also known as synthetic beeswax, this is available as a 3 percent ointment. When applied early and often, it may shorten the duration of the breakout.
- Rhubarb and sage. A cream combining rhubarb and sage may be about as effective as acyclovir (Zovirax) cream.
- Stress reduction. If your cold sores are triggered by stress, you might want to try relaxation techniques, such as deep-breathing exercises and meditation.
Reducing stress and getting enough sleep all the time are big factors in cold sore prevention. If you find you’re having frequent outbreaks, maybe it’s time to see the doctor-and also to take some time for yourself.