Differences Between Cold Sores and Herpes

Written by: Daniel Williams, MD

Many people remain confused about the difference between herpes and common cold sores that appear around the mouth. Learn the difference once and for all!

Cold sores refer to painful, transient lesions that typically affect the lips or area immediately near the mouth. Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 usually causes these lesions. Once infected with this virus, it is virtually incurable. The virus lies dormant in the nearby nerves and no traditional medications can completely remove or kill it. In times of stress, or for no apparent reason at all, the virus will “activate” and cause the tender cold sores around the mouth.

Herpes is most often thought of as the sexually transmitted disease that causes painful, genital lesions. Herpes Simplex Virus 2 causes the majority of genital herpes, but Simplex 1 may also, and visa versa. This overlap is why you need to see a doctor to make an accurate diagnosis.

Common cold sore can be treated with over-the-counter medications such as Campho-Phenique®. For serious and frequent cold sore outbreaks, consider Valtrex or Acyclovir. These are prescription medications used to treat genital herpes but may also help with severe cold sores.

Discuss the severity of your cold sores with your doctor. If you would like to treat your severe cold sores with something stronger than over-the-counter medications, order Valtrex or Acyclovir online from www.eDrugstore.com and fill out a medical questionnaire. A U.S.-licensed physician will consider writing a prescription for you.

Remember that these viruses can not be cured, but the number and severity of outbreaks can be greatly reduced.

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