How do you get cold sores?
Like the flu, herpes is a virus (cold sores are generally caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1) and can be directly transmitted by infected humans. But unlike the flu, when you are infected by the herpes virus, you are infected for life! In fact medical authorities suspect that up to 80% of the North American population carried the virus in their nerve system, but only 15-25% of them suffer from recurrent cold sore outbreaks.
But how do you get cold sores?
Mostly by interacting with people with active cold sores, to a certain extent even when people do not have any visual symptoms (during the prodrome stage) they can transmit the virus. Many people become infected with HSV-1 during their childhood through interactions with their parents or family (remember all those kisses at Christmas?). In North America, about 25% of children have been infected by the age of 5 years. By the age of 15 years, more than 70% of teenagers are infected by the HSV-1.
The Herpes virus cannot live for an extended period of time outside a living organism so it’s uncommon (but not impossible) to be infected by touching objects.
Be careful but not paranoid; avoid sharing utensils, glasses, avoid kissing or any intimate interactions with a person with an active cold sore.