Are Cold Sores Herpes?
When people think of herpes, they are usually thinking of the genital form of herpes. There is a lot of confusion as to whether cold sores and genital herpes are the same thing.
Cold sores and genital herpes are not the same. They are caused by different versions of the herpes simplex virus.
Cold sores are also known as oral herpes, and are caused by the herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1) strain of the virus, while genital herpes are caused by HSV-2.
What is Herpes?
Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted disease. It appears as small fluid filled sores and welt. Cold sores and genital herpes share the same blister like appearance.
Because genital herpes and oral herpes (cold sores) are closely related viruses, the symptoms of both strains of herpes are quite similar.
Before a genital herpes infection appears the area will sometimes tingle, feel slightly raised and may appear red and inflamed. A genital herpes outbreak will generally appear as a small, fluid-filled blister which goes through a cycle of phases. The blister will usually weep before crusting into a scab which then heals and disappears completely.
The blisters usually last for 7-10 days and follow a similar cycle to cold sores.
Is herpes contagious?
Genital herpes is quite contagious and is easily spread by direct skin contact with an infected area. It is most commonly transferred through sexual intercourse.
Since genital herpes can be transmitted through oral sex as well as vaginal sex, it is possible to contract the virus from a cold sore on a partner’s face or mouth.
Once infected with HSV-2, the virus will remain dormant within a person’s body, until it is activated by a trigger and an outbreak occurs.
How transferrable is the HSV Virus?
It is possible to transfer the different strains of the virus to other parts of the body. For instance, it is possible to transfer cold sores to the genitals during oral sex, and likewise genital herpes can be transferred to the mouth.
But just because a person has been infected with the HSV virus, this does not mean that they will suffer from an outbreak of genital herpes or cold sores. There a variety of factors, such as the strength of a person’s immune system and other triggers which will cause an outbreak of genital or oral herpes.