What we know as cold sores – common but troublesome blisters that usually appear on our lips – are caused by a virus of the herpes family. Sometimes the sores erupt for no apparent reason, but usually its not hard to find a cause.
Once the herpes virus first enters its victim, which may happen unnoticed or with flulike symptoms, it says in the nerve cells of the face, waiting for something to jolt in into action. That need not be a cold. It commonly follows exposure to the Sun.
It may come from stress, a fever, any kind of infection. The virus begins to grow, and within a day or two more sores appear.
Usually, the effects are mild. Within a week or so, the blisters dry up and the sores vanish. The cold-sore virus is spread by contact, so sufferers should take care, because it is easily passed on to others.
The herpes virus that brings cold sores is sometimes confused with that causing genital herpes. The first, known as herpes simplex virus type 1, or HSV1, is indeed closely kinked with the other, HSV2. Doctors say that some conditions caused by one type may also be caused by the other, and vice versa.
Genital herpes is spread by sexual contact with an infected person, and causes small blisters burst to leave small ulcers. This kind of herpes, like the other, cannot be cured. However, early treatment can reduce the severity of attacks. Women victims should have a cervical smear test at least once a year, because genital herpes may be linked with cervical cancer.