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. In France of a cohort of 12,735 presumed healthy adult volunteers included in the prospective study SU.VI.MAX, designed to assess the relation between nutritional supplementations and degenerative diseases, HERPIMAX randomly selected 4412 subjects (females 66.5%, males 33.5%). All serum samples were assessed for HSV-1 and HSV-2 IgG antibodies with a HSV type specific, enzyme immunosorbent assay (EIA). Equivocal result were retested with another HSV type specific immunoblot assay combined with a type common HSV IgG EIA in order to give a definitive interpretation.
Results: The mean seroprevalence was 67% for HSV-1 and 17.2% for HSV-2. For HSV-2 the seroprevalence was higher in females (17.9%) compared with males (13.7%) (p<0.001). For both HSV types, there was no significant difference in prevalence as regards age distribution in males and females, whereas prevalence increased significantly with age in females for HSV-1. Univariate analysis showed a significant association between HSV-1 prevalence and education level in males and females (p<0.001) and between HSV-2 prevalence and marital status in both sexes (p<0.001). There were geographical disparities, with a higher HSV-2 prevalence in the south of France as well as in Paris. Conclusions: These results confirm a high prevalence of HSV infection in France. They are also in agreement with previous results of other survey carried out in other developed countries as regards higher prevalence of HSV-2 infection in women, the stability of seroprevalence for both HSVtypes after 35 years of age in females and 45 years of age in males. 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 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.