The herpes simplex 1 virus or HSV-1 is the infection responsible for cold sores. I personally suffer from this form of the virus, so I completely understand you pain and frustration with the virus.
The virus affects humans and it is highly contagious. Once infected, a person will start experiencing symptoms related to the virus. This is called an outbreak. Some people experience one outbreak (the lucky ones), others might have to go through constant outbreaks. Before I took the time to modify my diet and lifestyle, I was having outbreaks once every month almost. It was horrible.
Transmission of the herpes simplex 1 occurs through direct contact with an infected person. In the case of cold sores, kissing a carrier of the virus or even putting your mouth on a glass or bottle used by such a person can result in infection. If you have a strong immune system, there are chances that you will not get it the first time around, but continued contact will increase chances of infection. Also, it is very important to avoid contact with a person who is showing symptoms of cold sores. This is because when the blisters appear, the virus is present in the affected area, thus making it easier for it to be transmitted.
After infection, it takes nywhere four to seven days for the herpes simplex 1 virus to become symptomatic. The cold sores do not appear immediately. On the first outbreak of the virus, you will most likely experience symptoms that match those of the common flu. Fever, muscle ache and swollen lymph glands are common. Along with them, you will start noticing a rash around or in the mouth. It is only after that, usually, that blisters appear. It can be only one blister or a number of blisters. They are very fragile and will burst, resulting in painful, itchy sores that eventually heal in one to two weeks depending on treatment.
Unfortunately, there is no permanent cure for the herpes simplex 1. The only option is to manage the symptoms and treat them. You even have the option of taking steps in order to prevent recurring outbreaks of the infection.
When the virus enters your body, it will nest at the roots of your nerves, along the spinal cord. It will stay latent (non-active) until your immune system becomes weak enough to let it travel along the nerves and reach the surface of the skin. There it replicates and results in the blisters we talked about.
As you can only treat and manage the symptoms, it is best that you do so as soon as possible, especially if you are going through your first outbreak. This is because the first time when the virus becomes symptomatic, it can be a real nuisance due to the fever and pain that accompanies it. Treat the fever and aches like you would treat the flu. For the blisters and rashes, there are several ointments that can help them go away.
Not all ointments work well. I have had luck with Abreva amd not much else. Abreva helps most when I can feel like I am going to get an outbreak, i.e. I feel my lips tingling or I am feeling completely exhausted. Using Abreva at these times helps me prevent an outbreak from even starting.
If you have already had an outbreak, Abreva is clincally proven to help reduce to duration of your cold sore symptoms by 1-2 days.
Taking antiviral medication is also recommended. This prevents the herpes simplex 1 virus from becoming symptomatic and causing another outbreak. Keeping a strong immune system by abiding to a healthy lifestyle will ensure that the virus stays latent and not bother you.
You can read more about herpes and diet at the herpes diet page of this site.
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