People get cold sores when they are infected with the herpes simplex virus, states WebMD. The virus is contracted from contact with infected fluids from another person through kissing or sharing utensils or drinking glasses.Continue Reading
The virus is often dormant and may reactivate at anytime. Some triggers that may activate the virus and result in a cold sore include stress, colds, the flu and exposure to the sun, states WebMD.
Herpes simplex virus type 1 is usually responsible for cold sores, while type 2 usually results in genital herpes. However, herpes simplex type 2 can infect the mouth through oral sexual contact with an infected person, states MedlinePlus.
Cold sores are highly contagious and can easily be transferred to other people and other parts of the body including the eyes and genitals, states WebMD. There is no cure for the virus.
Individuals can avoid cold sore outbreaks by avoiding things known to trigger the virus and by taking antiviral medications such as Acyclovir or Famciclovir, states MedlinePlus. The cold sores usually disappear on their own within one or two weeks. Rinsing with salt water, taking a pain killer such as Tylenol, and applying ice or a warm wash cloth to the blisters helps to manage the pain and discomfort until the sores disappear.Learn more about Cold & Flu