You’ve navigated your way around tempting treats and have read articles about flu prevention, but have you stopped to think about the dangers of exchanging saliva?
The Herpes simplex virus, or HSV-1, is the particular virus strand that causes cold sores (also known as fever blisters). It’s estimated that over 50% of the nation has been infected with the virus. Some carriers of HSV-1 have never had a cold sore and are unaware that they’re carriers, but are still contagious. This means that although they may never be plagued by a cold sore, they still retain the ability to transmit the virus to others, where it can cause unsightly and painful sores on lips and in the mouth. These sores can last up to two weeks, be pus-filled, and eventually crust over before they disappear. The virus will always remain latent in the body, waiting to be triggered by uncontrollable outside forces such as stress, cold weather, or exhaustion.
But how can I get it?
Cold sores are usually spread through saliva and enter through a minuscule break in the skin. This can be achieved not only by hanging out under the mistletoe at a party, but by sharing food as well. Parents can spread the Herpes simplex virus to their kids by drinking from the same cup of hot chocolate or sharing eating utensils.
A cold sore just appeared. What do I do now?
Fortunately, there are many over-the-counter and prescription treatments available to minimize the appearance of cold sores and their associated discomfort. Talk to your dentist or doctor when you have an initial cold sore outbreak or even if the current medication you’re taking isn’t working as well as desired.
Is there a bright side?
The good thing is that you no longer have to feel guilty about keeping your favorite holiday treat to yourself. Feel free to eat, drink, and be merry! Just remember to be safe now that you’re informed about the dangers of mistletoe.