Cold Sore Prevention

Sometimes it can be confusing knowing how and when cold sores can be spread, but once you have the correct information it is really easy to put Cold Sore Prevention into practice.

Having the right information is helpful for you, your loved ones and all those around you. It is easy to take a few simple precautions - do your part to help stop the cold sore virus from spreading.

  • Cold Sores are spread by direct skin to skin contact with the active virus, such as through a kiss.
  • The normal incubation period (time before symptoms begin to show after infection) is usually 2 to 20 days.[1]
  • Cold sores can spread whenever the virus is active on the skin's surface, signs include itching, tingling, redness or inflammation. It can also spread when there are no symptoms, and the high risk time for this to happen is just before the symptoms develop and a few days after the cold sore has healed.
  • Don't share drinks, make-up, shavers, cigarettes or other objects that touch your lips if you have a cold sore or feel one coming on.
  • The cold sore virus can be spread to the genital area (genital herpes) if the virus is spread to that area during oral sex. This will only happen if the cold sore virus is active on the skin at the time of contact. Rule to remember - don't receive oral sex if your partner is feeling symptoms or has a cold sore, and don't kiss or give oral sex if you are experiencing cold sore symptoms yourself.
  • Washing the area affected with soap and water, as soon as possible after contact, can help to sweep the virus away and may in some cases help cold sore prevention if done immediately and within a few minutes.
  • Once the body encounters the cold sore virus for the first time it begins to build up antibodies against it. It can take a few weeks, but once this antibody response is established the chance of spreading the virus to another body area is much less likely and the symptoms are typically easier to control.
  • The cold sore virus prefers mucous membranes (such as the mouth, nostrils and genitals) and requires friction, moisture and heat to successfully transmit to another person or location. A break in the skin will make the transmission process easier for the virus.

Cold Sore Prevention
Image of cold sore blisters on top lip and face

References:

1. Hilton, Lisette., (2002) "Cold Sore", Gale Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health



Other Helpful Resources:| Sexual Health Resource | STD Information | Herpes-Cold Sores (HC) Support Forum | Global Herbal Supplies