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What exactly is a cold sore, what causes them and how are they treated?

Cold sores are a very common illness caused by type 1 of the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1). Nearly one in five UK women are regularly affected by the condition.

The cold sore virus infects the nerve of a particular area of skin and from time to time produces a small, painful, fluid-filled blister.

Cold sores most often appear on the lips, nose, and the surrounding areas.

The virus is usually transmitted by such forms of contact as kissing an infected person or sharing eating utensils, towels or razors.

Children often become infected with the cold sore virus through contact with a virus carrying parent. Indeed it is believed most people with the cold sore virus became infected before the age of ten.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for cold sores. Once the virus infects an area of skin it is there to stay. All you can do is hope for long internals between attacks and use anti-viral creams such as Zovirax to treat a blister when it appears. But remember for best results, you need to start using the cream as soon as you feel that dreaded cold sore tingle.

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