Herpes simplex

It exists in two types of herpes simplex. Herpes simplex type 1, which over 80% of the population has, is the common cause of sores on the lips and mouth. Herpes simplex type 2, which about 20% of the population has is commonly called genital herpes. This type is more often associated with wounds in and around the genitals. However, both types can cause sores or blisters in both places.

How cold sores form

Both types of herpes are transmitted through contact with skin or mucous membranes and are particularly contagious just before, during and for a while after an outbreak. The wounds coming can come and go at irregular intervals. Outbreaks can occur both for no particular reason and as a result of, for example, sunburn, stress, alcohol intake or other things that affect the skin/lips' resistance and the body's immune system.

Outbreak patterns

You get the first outbreak after the virus' genetic material has entered your genome. After this, when your immune system is weakened due to stress, exhaustion or an infection, the virus gets the opportunity to divide quickly from your cells. Cold sores, such as colds, are often seen in children because their immune system has still not come this far in adapting to all the viruses we have around us. It happens less often later in life as the immune system gradually becomes better equipped to stop infections.


Sore gums or blisters in the mouth. Sometimes the sores are on the lips or the surrounding area. Before and during an outbreak, some people may feel tired and have a fever. This happens especially in children. The outbreak is usually over within a week or two.

Treating cold sores

Paracetamol or ibuprofen can reduce bodily discomfort if you experience it. Topical treatment with aciclovir may make the outbreak go away faster, especially if used before blisters form. There are antiviral drugs in tablet form, but doctors will try to avoid this if they can. To avoid more outbreaks, antiseptic ointment and washing with potassium permanganate can help. This does not kill the viruses but helps control bacterial infections that often occur at the same time and makes secondary outbreaks more likely.

General Practitioner

At Dr.Dropin our experienced GPs provide a wide range of primary care services, similar to those provided by the NHS, either in the clinic or through video consultations.


At Dr.Dropin, you will receive specialist care from our expert Consultant Dermatologists provided by skindoc. With extensive experience from both public and private hospitals, we can assess and treat most chronic and acute skin disorders – either in the clinic, through video, or via a photo upload service.