The Difference between Cold Sores and Herpes Explained

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What’s the difference between cold sores and herpes? Many people are confused about the difference, and there are a lot of rumors. So let this short post put this issue to rest for you.

Cold Sores vs. Herpes

A cold sore is a term that refers to viral outbreaks composed of lesions that occur on the lips and the mouth. Typically, your standard cold sores are caused by Herpes simplex virus type 1. There is also a type 2 virus that most of the time accounts for genital herpes. Herpes is the one associated with the Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD).

coldsores

The two types do have a tendency to overlap, and you can have type 2 causing cold sores and vice versa. That’s why it’s advisable for you to get a good diagnosis with your physician. Medication does not completely cure herpes virus. Typically, people will have herpes for life.
What happens is, the virus itself will sleep and lay dormant and not replicating or reproducing itself in nearby nerves. In the case of a cold sore, it involves nerves along the face, and only occasionally flare up. Sometimes they flare up once or twice a year between flare-ups.

Herpes simplex infects not just the lips and mouth but other parts of the body; including the genitals
Herpes simplex infects not just the lips and mouth but other parts of the body; including the genitals

The Similarities of Cold Sores and Herpes

But what they have in common is that during times of stress, and sometimes for no apparent reason at all, both types of Herpes simplex viruses can cause outbreaks. Both cold sores and herpes are easily communicable and passed on from one person to the other by any physical contact.