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 UK The prevalence of HSV-1 antibody among clinic attenders was 60.4% (95% CI 57.0 to 63.7) and among donors was 46.1% (95% CI 43.5 to 48.7). HSV-1 antibody was independently associated with increasing age in both populations (p<0.001). Among clinic attenders, HSV-1 was less common among heterosexual men than women and homosexual men (p<0.005), and was more common among black people (p=0.001) and those of lower socioeconomic status (p=0.05). Among blood donors, being single rather than married was independently associated with HSV-1 infection (p=0.03). Early age at first intercourse was strongly associated with presence of HSV-1 in both populations. The adjusted odds of HSV-1 among GUM clinic attenders was 0.37 (95% CI 0.21 to 0.65) for someone aged 20 at first intercourse compared with someone aged ≤15. Among blood donors, those aged 20 had an adjusted odds of 0.64 (95% CI 0.39 to 1.05) compared with someone aged 15. HSV-1 was not associated with increasing number of lifetime partners after adjustment for other factors. Conclusions: Genital herpes due to HSV-1 antibody is increasing in the United Kingdom, particularly among young people. In this study we found that HSV-1 was strongly associated with early age of first sexual intercourse, which may reflect the sexual practices of people initiating sex in this age group. 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.