Reasons Why You Get Cold Sores

If you get cold sores (or fever blisters) you have the herpes simplex virus (usually HVS type 1, but also HVS type 2). Cold sores aren’t caused by colds, but by HSV, which lies in wait in the nerve ganglia cells until an outbreak is triggered. If you have HSV, it can never be cured, however, you can lessen the appearance of the itchy, painful, unsightly sores by recognizing and avoiding these six common cold sore triggers and use these cold sore remedies

1. Here Comes the Sun…

If you like to bask in the sun, but are the unfortunate victim of cold sores, you may want to rethink your sunning ritual. According to the American Dental Association, sunlight is a common cold sore prompter.

Erratic weather changes, particularly too much sunlight, can spur cold sore outbreaks to reoccur. In fact, research from the University of Maryland Medical Center, claims that ultraviolet (UV) radiation via sun exposure is a prime cause for embarrassing fever blister flare up.

2. Smooching an Infected Person

Although you wouldn’t likely lay a big, wet kiss on a partner with a huge cold sore on their mouth, the cold sore virus (HSV) exists even when there is no visible blister.

Research from WebMD notes that herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 are transmitted via bodily fluids and swapping saliva is a prime method of passing the virus to your partner. You can also spread cold sores via the sharing of toothbrushes, glassware and eating utensils, and to a partner’s genitals via oral sex.

3. Menstruation

Oftentimes, women find that menstruation can spur the appearance of a painful and embarrassing cold sore. In fact, dermatologists at UCLA say that drastic hormonal changes can cause increased stress and cold sores prior, or during, a woman’s period.

Due to increases in hormonal levels, health experts at Core Physicians an affiliate of Exeter Hospital, in the U.K., claim cold sores can reappear. Common surges in hormones occur in teenagers during puberty, during pregnancy and menstruation.

4. Cold Sores Are Genetic

WebMD claims that another prime precursor of cold sores can be detected in your genes. A 2011 study published by the Journal of Infectious Diseases, pinpoints a specific gene, C21orf91, which triggers cold sore outbreaks.

The study, conducted collaboratively by researchers at the University of Utah and the University of Massachusetts, found that patients with this gene are prone to more frequent outbreaks (by roughly 21-percent).

5. Fever

Many folks associate cold sores with the common cold. However, while colds themselves don’t cause the emergence of a cold sore, WebMD suggests that a cold sore will often emerge at the first signs of a cold—namely fever, sore throat, and swollen glands.

WebMD notes that cold sore sufferers often experience fever blisters in the early days of illness. This explains why cold sores are often called “fever blisters” and why cold sores often occur when immunity is low.

6. Stress

You can be without a cold sore for years—then suddenly at the mention of a big presentation at work, a huge life change (i.e., marriage or pregnancy), or during times of high anxiety—suddenly a cold sore can appear out of nowhere.

According to researchers at the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), HSV-1 lies dormant in nerve ganglia cells coaxes it out of hiding, resulting in a cold sore. The AAD notes that stress also tends to weaken the immune system, which in turn, can prompt a cold sore outbreak.


Emily Lockhart

Emily Lockhart is a certified yoga instructor and personal trainer. She believes that being healthy is a lifestyle choice, not a punishment or temporary fix to attain a desired fitness or body image goal. Anna helps her clients take responsibility for their own health and wellness through her classes and articles on ActiveBeat.