Cold Sore Causes

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Cold Sore Causes - Overview

The herpes simplex type 1 and sometimes type 2 virus causes cold sores.

Normally, HSV1 occurs above the waist and HSV2 occurs below the waist.

However neither genital nor oral herpes are site specific.

This means that both types can infect any part of the body via:

  1. Skin-to-skin contact.
  2. The transference of vesicle fluid from an active lesion.
  3. From contact with infected body fluids such as saliva.
People can even infect other parts of their own body via a process known as "Autoinoculation" (self infection).

For example, a toddler with a cold sore may get a painful herpetic whitlow on the fingers by sucking its thumb, or a person may contract genital herpes by picking at a cold sore and then touching their genitals while going to the bathroom, and so on.
Herpes Keratitis
If you touch your eyelid with an infected finger, it could result in Herpes Keratitis (eye herpes)... and that could lead to blindness.

In rare cases, Herpes Keratitis could even infect the brain.

The good news is that autoinoculation only occurs in newly infected people during the six to eight week period following the first or “primary” HSV1 or HSV2 virus infection.

During this time the immune system develops antibodies to the virus in a process called "seroconversion."

Approximately six weeks after the first signs of a primary infection, the resultant antibodies prevent a person transferring an additional form of their herpes virus to another part of their body.

The lessons?

To avoid transmitting the virus to yourself and others:
  1. Don’t touch that cold sore.
  2. Become a compulsive hand-washer during an outbreak.
  3. Avoid contact with another person who has an active cold sore or genital lesion.


How the Herpes Virus Becomes Dormant

After the primary infection, the herpes virus retreats down the nerve to the nearest neural junction known collectively as a “ganglion”.

In the case of genital herpes, the ganglia is located at the base of the spine; in the case of a cold sore or fever blister, at the tip of the jawbone behind the ear.

Once there, the virus goes into a dormant state.

It can remain inactive for months or even years, until something triggers it back into activity.

It then travels back up the nerves to the surface of the skin where it either causes a cold sore outbreak or indulges in viral shedding.

Many sufferers engage in a relentless
Internet hunt for effective remedies, and
this is where interactive websites and
forums, such as our own Pay It Forward
section, play an important part.


Known Cold Sore Causes and Triggers

Other factors related to cold sore causes:

  • Stress, which tends to lower the bodies’ immune defenses.
  • Upper respiratory infections such as colds or ‘flu (leading to fever) – hence the common titles of ‘cold sores’ and ‘fever blisters’.
  • Changes in hormonal balance during menstruation.
  • Ultraviolet light from overexposure to sun resulting in sunburn.
  • Over exposure to wind and cold.
  • Trauma to the skin.
  • Dental procedures or surgery.
  • Overindulgence in Arginine rich foods such as chocolate, nuts and seeds (see Lysine).
  • An acidic inner terrain (bodily pH below 7.365 - see Alkaline Diet).

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