Cold sores are caused by herpes simplex 1 virus. This type of virus has a DNA core. The virus DNA integrates itself with the DNA in nerve cells. It stays dormant in there for a person's lifetime. Various stimuli, including stress, overexposure to sunlight, illness, can reactivate the virus. It then travels down the long "tail" that goes out of a nerve cell to the skin surface. There, it invades skin cells, where it reproduces itself. The process of the virus reproducing and breaking out of the cells causes the damage which makes up a cold sore.
So yes, the virus is with a person for life and will get reactivated at various times.
Thanks for the excellent information. I wonder if a person can never have cold sores then start having them at a certain point in their lives. I guess this ties in with it lying dorment for years, then BAM! you have an ongoing problem.
Excellent information and way to explain what a "cold sore " is..Unfortunatly, there are no cures. I do want to point out that you can get them from almost anyone, it does not have to be from an act of sex, it can be from your mother at birth, from a friendly kiss as a baby from a relative, etc.
It is a very widespread virus that most of the population has been exposed to and carry. Some people get them more than others and some have the virus but never see a sign of a "cold sore"
There is also a form dogs can carry as well as cats, but these forms can not be passed to humans. Only the young carry from the mother at birth.
Certainly. Someone could become infected in childhood, with little or no symptoms. Then, years later, stress, illness or other factors that decrease resistance will cause the right conditions for the virus to reactivate and produce cold sores.