Fever Blisters

Having a particular nasty one this week, and not having one for over 15 years I got to looking some info up on the web and still have some questions.

  1. It says the virus HIDES in the nerve. What exactly is this? How does it HIDE?

  2. It says herpes (oral AKA Fever Blisters and Cold Sores) are the cause of Genital Herpes as well as Oral Herpes. But then it says the virus is the same one but the body doesn’t recognize it as one. I don’t get it. If it is the same virus why doesn’t the body recongnize it.

  3. Why do Fever Blisters appear on or near the lips? I have never had one anywhere else. The sites I looked up said Canker Sores are IN the mouth and are not contagious. They are not Fever Blisters which ARE contagiuous.

  4. Are there any REAL effective treatments? I have heard of Abreva but I can’t find a Walgreens or Osco in my area (Chicago yet) that carries that. Some sites say use Zinc or Tannic Acid. Others say it is bad to use that.

Fever blisters are caused by herpes simplex virus. Traditionally, Herpes Simplex I was associated with oral lesions and Herpes Simplex II was associated with gential lesions. This distinction has become blurred recently and is irrelevant anyway, because both strains act the same way.
The body is able to kill off the virus that is in the blood and tissues fairly well after a week or two (in an immunocompetent host, of course). Hence the typical duration of an outbreak. The virus can also enter a nerve cell and remain latent (or dormant) for a long time, out of reach of the body’s immune system. In the case of HSV I in the oral area, it is often in the nerve that supplies the skin around the mouth.

Many different kinds of stressors can reactivate the virus which causes an eruption in the skin around the mouth.

Acyclovir is an effect treatment for suppression and outbreaks and is available by prescription. See your doctor for details.