Of all the ailments a human can experience, few are as annoying and embarrassing as cold sores. After all, who wants to walk around with blisters on their face for everybody to see, signaling to the world, “Hey, I’m contagious!” We all know somebody who’s had a date or interview ruined by cold sores, if only because they’re so shrouded in shame that they make confidence drop. It would be better if we could all share our pain, but the embarrassment factor means that there’s a kind of veil of silence surrounding the real problem— and that leads to misinformation. If you suffer from cold sores, or even if you just worry about getting them, know that you’re not alone! We’re here to help, and that starts with clearing up some common misconceptions. Here are the five most common myths about cold sores we’ve heard, and the truth you should really know.
- MYTH: Cold sores and canker sores are the same thing.
Nope, totally different. Cold sores are caused by a virus and occur OUTSIDE the mouth on your lips, chin, cheeks, or even in your nostrils. Canker sores are not virus-related and are actually aphthous ulcers, occurring INSIDE your mouth on your gums and tongue.
- MYTH: Cold sores are the same thing as, and come from, the sexually transmitted infection (STI) herpes.
While cold sores are a symptom of herpes, it is NOT the same herpes as the STI. Specifically, cold sores come from the virus herpes simplex virus 1, and are medically known as “recurrent herpes labialis.” Genital herpes comes from herpes simplex virus 2, a separate virus strain; having a cold sore on your mouth does not automatically mean you have an STI. However, the cold sores can be spread to any part of the body, so if you’re having an outbreak, do be careful about the activities you engage in with your partner.
- MYTH: Cold sores only occur around your mouth.
Cold sores can pop up anywhere on your body that has come into contact with another blister, whether via kissing or via touching the blister and touching another part of yourself without first washing your hands. The rest of your face is especially susceptible to the spread of the blisters, and it’s especially dangerous if you touch your eye area after touching your mouth or a blister without washing first. If you notice a cold sore blister around your eye(s), see your doctor immediately.
- MYTH: Cold sores are only linked to the common cold.
Illness may be a trigger of a cold sore outbreak, but it is certainly NOT the only one. Cold sores can also break out because of fatigue, stress, cold weather, sun exposure or menstruation. Pay attention to your body and know both your personal triggers and the signs that an outbreak is coming, which can include tingling and pain.
- MYTH: It’s impossible to treat cold sores without prescription medication.
Of course, when setting any course of treatment or diagnosing an issue, we recommend seeing your doctor. That being said, you CAN self-treat cold sores just as you self-treat any common cold or bug. You can prevent flare-ups with the always-recommended health combination of a healthy diet, exercise and sufficient sleep, and by upping your intake of vitamin C. When you feel an outbreak coming – and again, it’s important to pay attention to your body – ice is an effective way of soothing and preventing the blisters. Over-the-counter creams containing Docosanol 10%, like Abreva, are also effective. Cold sores also flourish in acidic environments high in the protein arginine, so you can make your body less friendly to them by avoiding acidic foods and ones high in arginine, like nuts, seeds, grains and chocolate. The protein lysine replaces arginine, so eating foods high in it – like meat, cheese, milk and yogurt – can also help.
Did any of these debunked myths surprise you? Do you suffer from cold sores? What self-treatments have you found to be effective?
Source: Disabled World