Cold Sores and Women

A Women’s Guide to Managing
& Preventing Cold Sores.

Are you a victim of recurring cold sores? Or does your partner have a not-so hidden mark above their lips? For whatever reason you need, cold sores can be big trouble if not handled properly. So here’s our list of the most important things women need to know about cold sore outbreaks (for further reading, see our cold sore faq page).

Cold Sores are HSV-1

The herpes simplex virus is split into two different categories: HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 is the strand of virus that causes oral infections, while HSV-2 affects the genitals. Both can be transferred to the other part of the body during infection, which is why it’s always important to be protected. Both are lifelong conditions, but with proper lifestyle choices, you can go long periods of time before remission.

The Virus Can Travel

Typically, the HSV-1 virus travels through skin-to-skin contact. When a blister is present, and skin contact is made, the virus can migrate over to the new host and begin a new infection. This is true with both strands of herpes. Even worse, if a cold sore blister comes into contact with your eye, or even a rash, it can create a new hybrid infection, which can be very painful and difficult to treat. The key is to use protection during sex and to be disciplined with hand washing.

Most People Have the Virus

Experts estimate that up to 90% of the population has HSV-1. Not to be confused with HSV-2, HSV-1 can be transferred at a young age when children share utensils with family members. Infection at a young age is also likely because children explore things with their mouths.

Recurring Cold Sores

While almost everyone has the HSV-1 strand of herpes, not everyone get cold sores. While the virus waits under the skin for a break in the immune system, it stays dormant and isn’t noticeable. If some people have a strong enough immune system, their cold sores may never appear. However, during times when cold sore triggers are present, such as illness, stress or extreme temperatures, it can cause an outbreak.

Never Pop a Cold Sore

Sometimes, pimples can appear on the side of your lip. But much like pimples, you should never pop a cold sore. A cold sore blister will naturally scab over and disappear, and popping it can only lead to spreading the infection to other areas of the body (The eyes, not the eyes!). While it can be tempting to get rid of a cold sore as fast as possible, there’s many other natural ways of helping a cold sore heal faster or stopping cold sores altogether.

Beware of Face Peels

A resurfacing treatment such as a face peel can create a nightmare scenario if you suffer from cold sores. Even waxing your lip can create a dire situation. What’s happening during a face peel is that the virus is allowed new areas to open up and take control. This can result in a complete facial infection. Always let your dermatologist know about past cold sore infections.

Cold Sores are Harmful to Babies

While it’s not the HSV-1 strain that is an issue, the HSV-2 strain of herpes can create a harmful infection that can spread to the fetus in pregnant women. However, babies that are in early infancy can be infected by HSV-1, which can be potentially fatal. The key is to prevent skin to skin contact during outbreaks and always washing your hands.