July 23, 2016
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Herpes Simplex Infections (Non-Genital) (cont.)

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What makes herpes (cold sores) recur?

After infection, the virus enters the nerve cells and travels up the nerve until it comes to a place called a ganglion. There, it resides quietly in a stage that is referred to as "dormant" or "latent." At times, the virus can become active and start replicating again and travel down the nerve to the skin, causing sores and blisters. The exact mechanism behind this is not clear, but it is known that some conditions seem to trigger recurrences, including

  • a fever, a cold, or the flu;
  • UV rays (exposure to the sun or a sunburn);
  • emotional or physical stress (such as an illness or surgery);
  • weakening of the immune system;
  • trauma to the involved area such as dental work; and
  • sometimes there is no apparent cause of the recurrence.

Are cold sores contagious?

Oral herpes is contagious to others who do not have it.

How do cold sores spread?

The virus is spread from person to person by kissing, by close contact with herpes lesions, or from saliva even when sores are not present. Infected saliva is a common means of virus transmission. The contagious period is highest when people have active blisters or moist sores. Once the blisters have dried and crusted over (within a few days), the risk of contagion is significantly lessened. HSV can also be spread through personal items that are contaminated with the virus, such as lipstick, utensils, and razors. Despite popular myth, catching herpes (cold sores) from surfaces, towels, or washcloths is a very low risk, since the virus does not usually survive long on dry surfaces.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/15/2016

Source: MedicineNet.com
http://www.medicinenet.com/herpes_simplex_infections_non-genital/article.htm

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