Herpes simplex-1 is a virus that is responsible for cold sore infections. Also known as herpes labialis, this strain of virus specifically targets the oral tissues. Herpes simplex -2, on the other hand, is the primary cause for the development of genital herpes. However, it is important to know that both of these viral strains can affect any part of the body, at any time.
Interestingly, about 90% of people in the world carry HSV-1. This is because most individuals are highly likely to acquire the virus as small children, often through affectionate contact with their parents. However, only a third of these people actually experience cold sore outbreaks. This means that it is possible to carry HSV-1 without ever experiencing a cold sore.
Weakened Immune System
The appearance of a cold sore is often dependent on the presence of HSV-1, as well as some kind of triggering condition. Often, herpes simplex strains are kept dormant due to the influence of the body’s immune system.
However, as soon as the immune system weakens, this “hold” begins to loosen, galvanizing the virus into activity. When this occurs, HSV-1 emerges from the nerve tissues of the body. It travels along the nerve ganglia to the surface of the skin, where is commences its reproductive cycle in the form of a cold sore.
There are a wide range of triggers that can kick off the cold sore cycle. Often, common sense dictates that anything that negatively impacts on the body’s immune system is a cold sore cause. For instance, during bouts of flu or colds, the body is also vulnerable to a range of secondary infections, like fever blisters.
People often tend to develop fever blisters in the wintertime, when the weather is at its coldest and when the immune system is often under immense strain. Emotional stress and mental stress can also diminish the efficacy of the immune system, thereby encouraging the development of HSV-1. Fatigue, malnutrition, and inadequate hygiene can all contribute to cold sores, too.
The virus is also susceptible to hormonal changes in the body. Teenagers experiencing puberty are often more likely to experience cold sore outbreaks. Women also develop fever blisters in the hormonal fluctuations associated with menstruation.
There are also certain external environmental factors that cause cold sores. For instance, physical trauma to the face – in the form of an injury – can rupture the skin and expose it to all kinds of infections. Exposure to intense amounts of ultra-violet radiation, in the form of sunburn, can also catalyze the emergence of fever blisters.
It is always helpful, therefore, to stem these triggers by taking some precautionary measures with regards to cold sores. A balanced, vitamin enriched diet will do wonders for the immune system, as will rest and exercise. Relaxation strategies, such as yoga and meditation, have helped people prone to stress. It is also a good idea to cover the skin with high SPF sun lotion, so as to avoid some of the complications caused by prolonged UV exposure. All of these tactics should reduce the chances of a bad cold sore outbreak.
Suggested Reading: How To Get Rid Of Cold Sores