It doesn’t take much to get infected by herpes simplex virus, and it doesn’t take much to pass the virus on to someone else. Are cold sores contagious? Yes, they are extremely contagious. So if you suffer from regular outbreaks you’ll want to know what you can do to avoid infecting the people you care about.
Table of Contents
Are Cold Sores Contagious? For How Long?
You know a cold sore is about to erupt when you feel a tingle on your lip. It could also burn or get really itchy before the blister appears. At this stage, your cold sore is already contagious.
But it’s at its most contagious when the blister bursts. All that fluid contains millions of virus particles and it’s very easy for it to spread. And even when a scab has formed you’re still at risk of spreading the virus to others. Every time you move your lips to talk, eat and drink or smile, the scab can split and tiny amounts of fluid may leak.
To be on the safe side, it’s best to assume that you are contagious from the first prickle on your lip, until the scab has disappeared.
How Can You Avoid Spreading the Virus?
You may be aware that the best way to prevent spreading a cold sore is to avoid kissing people. But there’s more to it than that. Here are some other precautions you should take:
If you put in in or near your mouth, don’t share things with other people. This includes food, eating utensils, cups and glasses and drinking straws. But don’t forget about toothbrushes, lipsticks and razors.
And take extra care with the linen you use. The virus can survive on inanimate objects like towels and sheets for a little while. If you share these things with other members of the family, get your own set to use when you have an outbreak.
Keep your hands to yourself
Do you know how many times you touch your face? Only about a million times! And from your fingers you can spread the virus to other objects such as your phone, a door handle or counter top.
If you can’t wash your hands every time you touch your face then keep a hand sanitiser close by and use it often.
Don’t go down
Having a cold sore means oral sex is off the table too. The HSV-1 virus that is responsible for cold sores can be the cause of some cases of genital herpes. And you wouldn’t want to take the risk of landing your partner with an uncomfortable and embarrassing infection.
You should be particularly careful around young children and babies, the elderly and people who are ill. Their immune systems aren’t strong enough and that means they have a greater risk for contracting the virus
How Can You Speed Up the Healing Process?
In general it takes between 3 – 14 days for a cold sore to clear without treatment. If you want to heal faster you’ll need to act quickly and consistently.
As you soon as you feel a cold sore coming on, reach for the Vitamin C. This antioxidant will give your immune system a boost to help it fight the virus. You should also use a lip balm to keep the skin on your lips soft and supple. This will stop the scab from cracking and your skin will heal faster.
Although you can get an antiviral ointment from your doctor or pharmacist, there are plenty of natural products that work just as well and are often much cheaper. Follow the advice in this article and you won’t have to worry about giving your cold sore to someone else.