Confusion between cold sores and herpes is common. Most people think herpes is just an infection specifically of the genitals. They don’t realize that it is the same virus that causes both conditions. There are two types and the Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV-1) is less severe and normally on the mouth. Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV-2) is normally on the genitals. However, there are rare cases of HSV-1 on the genitals.
HSV-1 usually infects the face and mouth. It is often transmitted during childhood by kissing or close contact. Most sufferers have HSV-1 before age 10. HSV-2 is primarily found in the genitals and is usually transmitted through sexual contact. As people have more oral sex, the transmission of HSV-2 to the face is also becoming more common. As HSV-2 is more severe, more matter location, more painful outbreaks are common. Genital HSV-1 is prone to less common outbreaks.
A cold sore is the result of a herpes simplex infection. The herpes virus is a retrovirus, a particularly brutal virus type that hijacks the infected cell’s machinery to insert itself into the DNA of the nerve cell. The code of the virus remains there until the right conditions emerge. When triggered, the virus switches on the DNA code and tells the cell to start producing lots of copies of the virus.
The cell produces so many viruses that it has to digest essential parts of itself, killing itself in the process. Millions of virions (individual viruses) collect inside the cell until it bursts, spraying viruses everywhere.
This is not what the body wants to happen, so it immediately launches a counterattack. The blood flow to the affected area is increased by the blood vessels widening and allowing more immune cells, nutrients, and oxygen to circulate where they are needed. Inflammation factors flood the area, in the long run promoting healing. Immune cells arrive in high concentrations to try mop up the viruses and prevent its spread.
The symptoms of a herpes are caused largely by the immune response of the body, not by the virus itself. If the virus is left without any response, as happens in people with suppressed immune systems, it can pose a real threat to health. In most people, the body’s response is good enough and after a few days or weeks, the cold sores or herpes go away. Unfortunately, the body cannot spot if a cell has been infected with the herpes virus because the DNA is hidden away in the nucleus. All the body can do is wait for the next outbreak.
Herpes simplex I (mostly cold sores) and herpes simplex II (genital herpes and other infections) are largely the same, with different affinities for certain areas of the body. Anyone can get a herpes infection and the symptoms are generally similar but with differing degrees of severity. Are cold sores herpes? Yes.
Core sores appear on the lips, around or in the mouth. They are sore, inflamed red, itching, and painful bumps. They often weep fluid and form a yellow crust if not kept clean properly. The crusting and cracking stage is the most contagious stage of a herpes infection. Mild anti-inflammatories and some antiviral medications can help reduce the frequency and severity of cold sores but they cannot cure them.
This is the common term for any herpes simplex infection. Herpes can infect the eyes, fingers, any exposed skin, and the genitals. Like cold sores, herpes, no matter where, manifests itself as a raised, hot, itchy, painful, sometimes weeping sore that can be treated with mild anti-inflammatories and/or some antiviral medication. The herpes viruses, type 1 and type 2, have largely the same symptoms and treatments.
Herpes is at its most contagious in the hot, itching stage before an outbreak and during an outbreak. However, people who are infected with herpes simplex virus are always contagious, even if they have no symptoms. This is probably the reason that upwards of 90% of humanity is infected with herpes, though most have very few outbreaks.
If you are experiencing a herpes outbreak, you should avoid touching the sores. If you have touched them, wash your hands thoroughly with soapy water and dry them before touching anything or anyone else. Sharing towels or making contact with underwear someone with herpes has used can be an avenue for infection, so it is best avoided.
There are dozens of treatments available for herpes, some of them potentially useful, others less so. One area of investigation is the use of cannabidiol, or CBD, to treat herpes. Very few scientific investigations have been carried out on the effects of CBD on herpes infections. The current research shows mixed results.
CBD is a remarkably powerful anti-inflammatory. Most of the troublesome symptoms of herpes are related to the inflammatory response of the body so, by tuning down this response, a patient can help to relieve their symptoms. Anecdotal and some small scientific evidence has pointed to this being useful. However, one small study has found that the anti-inflammatory effect of CBD on herpes infected cells in a laboratory was so strong that the virus was able to continue multiplying and caused significantly more cell death than the control group.
Herpes infects nerve cells and causes neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain appears to be effectively moderated by CBD. CBD may offer less itching, swelling, heat, and pain for a longer infection, or lots of itching, swelling, and pain for a shorter outbreak. Most people would opt for this, but it is important to confer with your doctor.
CBD is a relatively tolerable and safe drug. The safety profile of CBD has not been fully established for the long term. However, in nearly every study, CBD presents very few side effects in very few people. All evidence points to CBD is a potential treatment option for herpes. However, as always with untested treatments, there is a risk and the patient should do plenty of research and speak to a medical professional before making a final decision.