Cold sores and fever blisters are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1. Unlike canker sores, cold sores and fever blisters are contagious from the time the blister ruptures to the time it has completely healed. The initial infection often occurs before adulthood and may be confused with a cold or the flu. Once the person is infected with the virus, it stays in the body, becoming dormant and reactivated by such conditions as stress, fever, trauma, hormonal changes (such as menstruation), and exposure to sunlight.
When sores reappear, they tend to form in the same location. In addition to spreading to other people, the virus can also spread to another body part of the affected person, such as eyes or genitalia.
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Archived: March 20, 2014
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