When Does a Cold Sore Stop Being Contagious?
The virus that causes cold sores is extremely contagious, so it’s common for people to feel wary about taking part in normal activities out of fear of infecting someone else.
The virus in question is called HSV-1, or herpes simplex virus. Most infections are asymptomatic, but in some cases, the virus can cause painful blisters or ulcers at the infection site. The problem is, it is very easy to spread the HSV-1 virus, even through indirect means like sharing some utensils, or carrying it on your hands after touching your cold sore.
How Long Are They Contagious?
Cold sores are contagious up until you do not see the scar at all, which usually means around 15 days or so. They are the most contagious when you have an ‘active’ sore, but you can still transmit the virus even when the blister appears to be healing.
A good rule of thumb is that if the sore has disappeared completely and there are no visible signs of it, then you are likely not contagious anymore.
How Do You Stop A Cold Sore from Being Contagious?
Dealing with a cold sore can be a frustrating experience, so it’s important to take the right precautions to ensure the virus isn’t transmitted to your loved ones.
Here are a few ways to prevent spreading the virus:
- Do not touch the cold sore, unless it’s to apply a treatment. Even so, wash your hands thoroughly right after.
- Avoid kissing people, even on the cheek.
- Avoid oral sex, as you can transmit the virus to your partner’s genitals.
- Do not share any personal items such as cups, bottles, food, or other items that could come in contact with your cold sore.
- Change your toothbrush to prevent reinfection. The virus can live on your toothbrush for days.
- Follow the treatment plan correctly, based on your doctor’s recommendations.
Wait And Apply Treatment
The best thing you can do with a cold sore is to be patient and apply your treatment consistently every 2 hours. Cold sores usually need around 15 days to disappear, but there can be certain variations on a case-by-case basis.
There are certain strategies you can adopt to make way for a speedier recovery and reduce the risk of getting another cold sore in the future:
- Changing your diet - you might be unknowingly consuming high levels of certain foods that act as triggers for cold sores. Spicy foods are a good example, as are citruses, wine, or vinegar-based salad dressings. Conversely, foods high in L-lysine can help heal a cold sore, such as chicken or salmon.
- Use sunscreen - sunscreen creates a film over your face and cold sore to protect it from the sun rays, which can often make the cold sore a lot worse. Wearing sunscreen daily is also a good way to prevent cold sores from appearing.
- Place ice on the cold sore - this can help reduce swelling and inflammation, leading to a faster recovery.
- Take Lysine products - adding Lysine products in the form of ointments and lip balms can be a good way to treat a cold sore and potentially help you recover faster from it.
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