I swear it's just a cold sore
When to worry and what to do
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve had a cold sore. If you haven’t, give it time. The odds are you will someday.
Today’s article will cover what a cold sore is, how to treat it, when to worry, and when not to worry.
Roughly 2/3 of the world's population has the cold sore virus in them. It’s known as Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1). Herpes viruses are masters at staying alive and spreading their lineage. Let’s get right into it.
HSV-1 is a double-stranded DNA virus, much like the shingles virus we covered last week. Once the virus enters the cell it’s brought to the nucleus and injects its DNA into the nucleus and hijacks the cell’s replication system. From there, it replicates and spreads.
It eventually finds a home in one of the sensory neurons (trigeminal, geniculate, vestibular). These neurons are in the face. Why does it go to these ones? Because it gets into the body through kissing sharing chapstick, sharing food, and so on. It’s really that simple. We will cover other locations later.
HSV usually presents within a few days of exposure. It causes a nonspecific flu-like illness. This means a fever, sore throat, headache, fatigue, and so on.
Next, you’ll start to feel a tingle in your lip. After a few hours, it turns into a burning. When you wake up in the morning you’ve got a big, fat, oozing blister on your lip. The clear fluid dripping out of the sore and any skin associated with the blister are infectious.