Cold sores are known to be small, blister-like lesion, which usually appear around the mouth and are caused by Herpes simplex Virus . A lesion is any abnormal tissue found on or in an organism, usually damaged by disease or trauma. Usually occurring on or near lips or nostrils of nose these cold sores are also called as the fever blisters and are highly painful. Cheek’s, chin and finger tips are some other places / sites affected by the cold sores.
INCIDENCE: It is estimated that 80% of the population carry the virus and 60 million people have outbreaks once or more per year.
Cold Sores are sometimes confused with canker sores, which occur only in mouth whereas cold sores rarely occur in mouth and if they do they occur in the roof of the mouth or the gums.Cold sores are caused by a virus known as the Herpes Simplex whereas canker sores occur because of bacterial infection. Even though the virus has two main strains called the herpes simplex one (HSV-1) and the herpes simplex virus two (HSV-2) but the type 1 of the virus strain is usually the one that causes the cold sores around the mouth i.e. (HSV-1). In very few cases of cold sores, fever blisters can also be caused by the type 2 strain of the herpes simplex virus usually occurring due to the practice of having oral sex with a patient infected with the herpes of the genital organs because herpes 2 is usually associated with lower half of the body region especially herpetic lesions on the genital areas.
Type 1 strain of the herpes virus also known as the cold sore virus is known to be very infectious (Infectious pathologies are usually referred as contagious diseases, also known as the communicable diseases due to their potential of transmission from one person or species to another) that can very easily spread from one patient to another by very near and direct close contact with each other. The virus lies dormant or inactive for most of the time once any person has been exposed to the virus. But, every now and then an outbreak of the fever blisters is caused by the activation of the herpes simplex virus by various trigger agents which may vary from patient to patient. Some cases are seen where a patient may never get cold sores in life even though the virus is present as it never gets activated whereas some patients have two or three cold sore attacks in a year and others might have the attack just once a year and never again.
Strain 1 of the herpes simplex virus is the causative agent of the fever blisters. Often the herpes virus is passed on in the childhood itself by the kiss of cold sores infected person commonly a family member. The virus goes through the skin and travels up the nerves, where it lays sleep (inactive) until it is activated at a later time. The disease caused in children is known as primary herpetic-gingivostomatitis and the infection that occurs in later stages when an inactive virus becomes active is called as secondary herpetic-infection.
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