What is a cold sore?


Cold sores are very common and are easily recognised because they often appear as blisters around the lips and mouth.

Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus. There are two types: HSV-1 usually results in cold sores and HSV-2 is commonly associated with genital herpes. Both viruses lie dormant in your system until you get run down, or something triggers an attack.

Some people only get a cold sore once. Others find they have several during the year.

There's no cure! Once you've got the virus, unfortunately, you've got it for life.


If you can work out what triggers your cold sore attacks, you can at least be prepared. For some people it's environmental, for others it's physical or emotional stress.

Learn more about triggers
What are your triggers?