Conditions InDepth: Cold Sores (Herpes Simplex Type 1)
Cold sores are small, painful, fluid-filled blisters. They are also known as fever blisters. The blisters occur most often on the lips. They may also occur in other places such as the mouth, nose, chin, cheeks, and throat, or other areas of the skin. Cold sores are often caused by the herpes simplex type 1 virus (HSV-1). Less often, however, they can be caused by herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-2). HSV-2 is the virus that most often causes genital herpes . Having a herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection around the mouth is very common. In fact, nine out of ten older adults have been exposed to HSV. Not everyone who is exposed to the virus will develop cold sores.
|Herpes Simplex on the Lips|
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- Through kissing and other close contact
- Through sharing eating utensils, razors, towels, or other personal items
- Sharing food or drink
- Contact with saliva containing HSV
Cold sores. Nemours Kids Health website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/common/cold%5Fsores.html. Updated October 2010. Accessed February 17, 2014.
Herpes labialis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 30, 2014. Accessed February 17, 2014.
Herpes simplex. American Academy of Dermatologywebsite. Available at: http://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/e---h/herpes-simplex. Accessed February 14, 2014.
- Reviewer: David L Horn, MD, FACP
- Review Date: 02/2014
- Update Date: 02/17/2014