Cold sores are caused by certain strains of the herpes simplex virus (HSV). HSV-1 usually causes cold sores. HSV-2 is usually responsible for genital herpes. However, either type can cause sores in the facial area or on the genitals. Most people who are infected with the virus that causes cold sores never develop signs and symptoms. The herpes simplex virus usually enters the body through a break in the skin around or inside the mouth. It is usually spread when a person touches a cold sore or touches infected fluid-such as from sharing eating utensils or razors, kissing an infected person, or touching that person's saliva. A parent who has a cold sore often spreads the infection to his or her child in this way. Cold sores can also be spread to other areas of the body. An Australia-wide, population based study of HSV-1 and HSV-2 seroprevalence was conducted, using serum and sociodemographic data collected between 1999-2000, for a representative study of risk factors for diabetes in over 11 000 adults. A stratified random sample of 4000 was tested for HSV-2 and 1000 for HSV-1, with sampling and weighting for various demographic factors.Seroprevalence of HSV-2 in Australian adults was 12%. Prevalence in women (16%) was twice that in men (8%). Rural populations had a lower prevalence (9%) than metropolitan (13%), and Indigenous had a higher prevalence (18%) than the non-Indigenous populations (12%). The seroprevalence of HSV-1 was 76% with significant differences by age group, sex and Indigenous status. Cold sores usually clear up without treatment within 7 to 10 days. Antiviral tablets or cream can be used to ease your symptoms and speed up the healing time. Antiviral creams such as aciclovir or penciclovir (also known as Fenistil) may speed up the healing time of a recurrent cold sore infection if used correctly.Cold sore creams are widely available over the counter from pharmacies without a prescription. They are only effective if you apply them as soon as the first signs of a cold sore appear, when the herpes simplex virus is spreading and replicating. Using an antiviral cream after this initial period is unlikely to have much effect. Cold sore patches that contain a special gel called hydrocolloid are also available. They are an effective treatment for skin wounds and are placed over the cold sore to hide the sore area while it heals.
Non-antiviral treatments:-Several non-antiviral creams are also available over the counter without a prescription from pharmacies. These creams are not specifically designed to treat cold sores and will not help them heal faster, but they may help ease any pain or irritation. Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable treatment for you. Various vaccine candidates have been developed, the first ones in the 1920s, but none has been successful to date. Due to the genetic similarity of both herpes simplex virus types (HSV-1 and HSV-2), the development of a prophylactic-therapeutic vaccine which is proven effective against one type of the virus would provide fundamentals for vaccine-development for the other virus type. As of 2015, several vaccine candidates are in different stages of clinical trials as they are being tested for safety and efficacy, including at least three vaccine candidates in the US and one in Australia. An ideal herpes vaccine should induce immune responses adequate to prevent infection. Short of this ideal, a candidate vaccine might be considered successful if it (a) mitigates primary clinical episodes, (b) prevents colonization of the ganglia, (c) helps reduce the frequency or severity of recurrences, and (d) reduces viral shedding in actively infected or asymptomatic individuals.