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March 26th, 2009
12:57 PM ET

Is a cold sore always permanent?

As a new feature of CNNhealth.com, our team of expert doctors will answer readers’ questions. Here’s a question for Dr. Gupta.

Asked by Kaley, Tucson, Arizona

“Dr. Gupta,

My roommate has been getting cold sores around her mouth since she was a little girl. I have never had one until very recently. Is it true that once you get a cold sores, you’ll get them for the rest of your life? What can I do to avoid getting another one? Thanks.”

Answer:

Hi Kaley. Thanks for writing in. Cold sores – also known as fever blisters – are highly contagious. The virus can live on towels, razors, cooking utensils, cups among other everyday household places. So you can imagine how easy it is to pass to a roommate, as in your situation, or to a family member.

Fever blisters are the result of virus known as herpes simplex virus one (HSV-1). While the thought of the virus infecting your body may seem really serious, its actually relatively harmless and quite common. Eight in 10 Americans are HSV-1 carriers, according to the National Institutes of Health.

There is no currently no cure for cold sores. Once you have the virus, you have it for life. HSV-1 moves around your body and “sleeps” in your nerves cells until something triggers it to “wake up.” The virus will then move to the surface. Some people will go years without having an infection, while other people will experience them frequently.

You can limit your overall risk by identifying what triggers your cold sores. The most common reasons are exposure to the sun, stress, a low immune system or toothache. Even certain foods can be the trigger.

Some believe foods such as olive oil, citrus fruits, sea salt, garlic, asparagus as well as  soft drinks and chocolate can trigger a cold sore.   If your cold sore already is already formed, some of these foods may aggravate the infection. The best thing to do is eat a balance of these foods. Eating or drinking any of these items from time to time is not problematic, just be mindful of the triggers and eat a balanced diet.

And it’s worth noting that your body will give you warning signals when the cold sore is on the way. The infected area will feel warm, tingling, perhaps even itchy up to two full days before you see the physical signs. If you begin treatment during this early stage, you’ll limit the severity of the outbreak.

When the small red blisters bumps begin to surface on your lip, or corner of your mouth, it’s critical to not touch the area at all. This is most contagious stage and the fluid in those bumps will infect other areas of your body and the people around you.

The best treatment option in the early stages is a prescription antiviral medication. These come in pill or ointment form and will help limit the growth of the virus. There are some ointments to help relieve the pain and itchy senstations available over the counter. People often get relieve from a cool compress on the area for about 20 minutes.

So Kaley, although cold sores are often a nuisance phyiscally, there are several ways to limit the frequency or severity of a potential outbreak. Your doctor can help determin the best treatment option for you.


soundoff (120 Responses)
  1. Lobensmith

    Hello Everyone i am here to tell people suffering from herpes illness about Dr lobensmith i contact Dr lobensmith if their can be any help for my herpes illness and he promise to help me, he prepared a herbal medicine for me and send it to me through DHL i followed his instruction after a week i went to hospital for test and i was cured it was a greatest surprise to me so i decide to share this testimony. a very big thanks to this herbal doctor called Dr lobensmith who save my life, please if you have this kind of sickness or any disease do not give up you can contact via email dr lobensmith35@gmail.com @gmail .com and beware of scams friend fake doctors everywhere but thank God for Dr laskas or WhatsApp him +2349070094372

    January 21, 2019 at 06:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. morry morgan

    Must read! My names are Ben Ken from US taxes, for a year now i have been living with this virus called COLD SORE VIRUS and i have been taking some medications from my Doctor and there was no improvement, All thanks to God almighty for using Dr ABILI for curing my Cold Sore Virus with the help of his powerful root and herbs...Well i do not have much to say, with all my life i will for ever be grateful to him and God Almighty for using Dr, ABILI to reach me when i thought it is all over, today i am now happy after the medical doctor have confirmed my status Cured, i have never in my life believed that Cold Sore could be cure by any herbal medicine. so i want to use this medium to reach other persons who is suffering from any deadly disease or Cold Sore you can contact Dr, ABILI on his email, drabiliherbalhome@gmailcom or call/whatsapp +2347036484707

    Thanks.

    January 30, 2019 at 18:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. okougbo

    Greetings Fiends
    I wasn't satisfied i needed to get the Herpes out of my system!! I took Dr. Larry medicine as prescribed by him and 14 days later i and my wife was cured from herpes.I am so happy living a new life now and Dr. Larry told me he cure the flowing virus like HERPES, HPV and ALS , So here is his contact below. You suffering from _herpes Contact a herbal doctor for cure he has herbal remedies and cure for your problems visit his email on larryherbalcenter@gmail.com or Whats app contact +2348163807836
    I was help by him when I had similar problem.

    January 31, 2019 at 14:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Crystal

    Ive gotten cold sores all my life and honestly I am so sick of them. I am one that if I have anything on my lips and is very noticeable I will cry and be so embarrassed because I am afraid someone is going to make fun of me for having this huge sore on my lip or ask me what that is and if I have an STD. I get so stressed out over having it which sadly does not make it better because stress is a number one factor of why I get them in the first place. I have no idea how to make them go away and never come back.

    January 31, 2019 at 18:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Panshak Zamani

    I was diagnosed of herpes 3 years ago, the doctor said there are no possible cure for the virus. But i never gave up hope of getting cured. i have been living with it taking acyclovir to prevent outbreaks. I have been doing everything possible to get cured, so i never stopped doing research about finding a cure, i came across testimonies of people getting cured by Dr. Okasi herbal medicine. I contacted him through his website: okasiherbalsolution. webs .com, we talked on phone and i discovered he was genuine. I gave it a try and got the medicine from him, took it has he has prescribed and i'm so happy to say i'm completely cured, i went back to my doctor to confirm it. It's so amazing, a thing of joy. Dr Okasi herbs medicine is capable of curing HSV 1&2 completely. contact him today Email: okasiherbalsolution @ outlook. com.....

    February 8, 2019 at 17:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Panshak Zamani

    I was diagnosed of herpes 3 years ago, the doctor said there are no possible cure for the virus. But i never gave up hope of getting cured. i have been living with it taking acyclovir to prevent outbreaks. I have been doing everything possible to get cured, so i never stopped doing research about finding a cure, i came across testimonies of people getting cured by Dr. Okasi herbal medicine. I contacted him through his website: okasiherbalsolution. webs. com, we talked on phone and i discovered he was genuine. I gave it a try and got the medicine from him, took it has he has prescribed and i'm so happy to say i'm completely cured, i went back to my doctor to confirm it. It's so amazing, a thing of joy. Dr Okasi herbs medicine is capable of curing HSV 1&2 completely. contact him today Email: okasiherbalsolution @ outlook. com..

    February 8, 2019 at 17:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. paul mawson

    my 16 year old daughter,jane, was diagnosed of herpes 3 years ago. ever since then,we have been going from one hospital to the other. she have also tried all sorts of pills but all efforts to get rid of the virus was not successful.i started combing the web to sought for any other means of saving my daughter.just then,i came across a comment on Dr EKPEN’s herbal treatment and decided to give it a try.he prepared the herbs and sent it to us.my daughter used it as directed and not up to two weeks,my daughter regained her health..dont let doubt and ignorance not let you get the cure you need,contact him on his email ; homeofherbalremedy@gmail.com You can also call him on:+2349069921316 Thank you Dr EKPEN. Be kind enough to share as you received

    February 14, 2019 at 15:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. paul mawson

    my 16 year old daughter,jane, was diagnosed of herpes 3 years ago. ever since then,we have been going from one hospital to the other. she have also tried all sorts of pills but all efforts to get rid of the virus was not successful.i started combing the web to sought for any other means of saving my daughter.just then,i came across a comment on Dr EKPEN’s herbal treatment and decided to give it a try.he prepared the herbs and sent it to us.my daughter used it as directed and not up to two weeks,my daughter regained her health..dont let doubt and ignorance not let you get the cure you need,contact him on his email ; homeofherbalremedy@gmail.com You can also call him on:+2349069921316 Thank you Dr EKPEN. Be kind enough to share as you received,,,

    February 14, 2019 at 15:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. homer343

    I understand herpes is somewhat of a permanent thing at present. However, I have been getting some great relief from a natural alternative called Virasoothe. The company is based in New Zealand and has been online for around 20 years.

    Admittedly it's not a cure, but I've found it does relieve the symptoms and has dramatically reduced the severity of outbreaks. I also note the frequency of outbreaks is decreasing too which is a massive relief. Not sure if I can leave a link, but here it is if I am https://simplyessential.com

    February 28, 2019 at 18:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Jane Dabe

    Hi.

    Id like to know if your company is open to online marketing such as Search and Social (among others) for thechart.blogs.cnn.com.

    Theres a number of digital marketing analysts I work with who are highly tenured in the digital marketing space, and have a sound knowledge of your line of work. Theyd even be able to show you a few impressive case studies.

    Just interested to know: Would it be OK to have them briefly get in contact with you at and discuss? And what would be the best time?

    Jane

    March 2, 2019 at 00:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Anastasia

    Happiness is all i see now I never thought that I will be cured from HERPES virus again. I have been suffering from a deadly disease (HERPES) for the past 3 years now, I had spent a lot of money going from one places to another, from churches to churches, hospitals have been my home every day residence. Constant checks up have been my hobby not until this faithful day, I was searching through the internet, I saw a testimony on how Robinson.buckler helped someone in curing his HERPES disease, quickly I copied his email which is (Robinson.buckler@ yahoo. com) just to give him a test I spoke to him, he asked me to do some certain things which I did, he told me that he is going to provide the herbal cure to me, which he did, then he asked me to go for medical checkup after some days after using the herbal cure, behold I was free from the deadly disease, he only asked me to post the testimony through the whole world, faithfully am doing it now, please brothers and sisters, he is great, I owe him in return. if you are having a similar problem just email him

    May 19, 2019 at 21:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. draluyaherbalcure

    Cold sore comes and go but never dead from the blood. What I hate about it is the embarrassment whenever it comes unexpectedly. I got rid of mine 4 years ago with Dr Aluya solution and till date I never had a break out unlike before it’s almost every month. Reach him here: draluyaherbalcure@gmail.com. My WhatsApp: 2104607419

    June 22, 2019 at 19:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. MERCY PAUL

    I was suffering from ( HERPES DISEASE ) for over 3 years,i was hopeless until one of my friend directed me to a man called Dr Ehigie, she said he cure Herpes disease and also said he has helped her friend to cure Herpes Virus, and cure other people with different diseases, i never believed her but after a lot of talk, i decided to give the DOCTOR a try, just few days later i contacted him and he told me what to do which i did and he prepared a herbal medicine and sent to me with prescriptions on how i will take it for a period of days. After i finished taking the medicine he told me to go for a test which i also did and when the result came out i was surprised to see that i am Negative. Big thanks to him. You can also contact him if you wish yourself to be cure too and also give it a try Contact him on his Email: Ehigie@gmail.com. if you need his help for HERPES cure.

    September 28, 2019 at 10:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. ella

    Natural herbs have cured so many illness that drugs and injection can't cure. I've seen the great importance of natural herbs and the wonderful work they have done in people's lives. i read people's testimonies online on how they were cured of herpes, diabetics etc by Dr Aziza herbal medicine, so i decided to contact the doctor because i know nature has the power to heal anything. I was diagnosed with Herpes for the past 2 years but Dr Aziza cured me with his herbs and i referred my aunt and her husband to him immediately because they were both suffering from herpes but to God be the glory, they were cured too .I know is hard to believe but am a living testimony. There is no harm trying herbs. Contact Dr Aziza via email.Drazizahome4cure@gmail.com or Whatsapp +2348052498003.. Good luck

    October 14, 2019 at 02:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Tony Derrick

    I'm Tony Derrick, I'm from Atlanta USA. I just wanna thank Dr. Alaho for curing me from HSV2 after suffering for 2 years with out break. he cured me with the help of herbal medicine you can also contact him on WhatsApp or call +2347064370626 or Email Alahoremedyhome@gmail.com

    November 12, 2019 at 02:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Tony Derrick

    I am  from Atlanta Georgia, USA I can’t stop thanking DR Alaho for this Great thing that he has done in my life, I am so grateful to him, i was suffering from Herpes for 2 years, when i contacted DR Alaho after reading the wonderful testimony that people has been sharing about him. I have being on medication and trying looking for cure to my ailment. I went through internet doctors and i contacted a Tradomedical/Traditional doctor named, Dr Alaho for help. He give me all his rules and regulations, that if he cured me that I should write about him on internet site and that is what I’m doing now. He assure me that he will cure me with his herbal medicine which he really did, and I’m now completely cured from Herpes virus. What will i say rather than thanking him for saving me. Why suffering in silence when there is remedy to your diseases. Dr Alaho also specialize in curing the following disease:
    *HIV/Aids
    *Kidney failure
    *Arthritis
    *Diabetes
    *Hypertension
    *Ebola and Other Hemorrhagic Fevers
    *The Opioid Epidemic
    *Antibiotic Resistance
    *Vaccine Hesitancy
    *Candida Auris
    *Stroke
    *Obesity
    *Infertility/Impotency
    *Cancer
    *Eye Problem
    *Skin Problem
    *Fibroid Tumor
    *Ulcer
    *Prostate Problem
    *Asthma
    *Weight Management
    *Gonorrhea/Staphylococcus
    *Candidie
    *Low sperm can
    *Weak erection
    *Weak ejaculation
    *Pile
    *Elephantiasis
    *Skin Infection
    *Paralysis e.t.c
    *If you want your ex back.
    *If you always have bad dreams.
    *Hpv
    *If you want to be promoted in your office. For more information contact Dr Alaho via email:(Alahoremedyhome@gmail.com), you can also call him on his mobile number or what'sapp +2347064370626

    November 12, 2019 at 02:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Joe

    I still use lysine on a regular basis but I've just found a treatment using a thing called photoinactivation. You basically still some of this dye on the cold sore and shine a fluorescent light on it and away it goes! https://blockherpes.com/ is the website.

    November 12, 2019 at 17:39 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.