Is your cold sore herpes? Why you shouldn’t panic!

Is your cold sore herpes? Why you shouldn’t panic!

Ever since it became common knowledge that cold sores are technically a form of herpes (HSV-1), people have panicked about them and drawn connections to the more severe form of genital herpes (HSV-2). In truth, herpes is a much more common issue than people think it is and the stigma around it as a STI (sexually transmitted infection) is the only real reason anyone might feel a sense of embarrassment about it. Anyone who thinks they have herpes should confirm it by getting a referral for a herpes test online so they can get the appropriate treatment.

Yes, your cold sore IS herpes

Cold sores, the blistery spots that appear around the outside edge of your lips, result from the herpes simplex virus (HSV). HSV-1 or orolabial herpes is responsible for cold sores and is incredibly common with the vast majority of people infected early in their lives.

HSV-2 or genital herpes is more severe and affects around 1 in 6 people between the ages of 14 and 49. You don’t get cold sores around your mouth from HSV-2, so make sure you check the signs of common STIs so you can get the right idea.


This is the oral herpes that nearly everyone experiences during the course of their life and is transmitted through oral contact like kissing. The blisters that form can range from irritating to incredibly painful and will normally last for around a week to 10 days depending on if you are getting treatment. While it is primarily transmitted through oral-to-oral contact, touching your cold sore and then a surface that people commonly use (like a doorknob) might cause it to spread to someone who touches that surface and then their mouth. Obviously, you don’t want to share drinks with someone when you have HSV-1. It’s possible for the cold sores to appear on other parts of the body such as the interior of the mouth or nose.


HSV-2 is the big bad brother of HSV-1 and is the strain that is stigmatised in popular culture as an embarrassing STI. HSV-2 is almost always spread by genital-to-genital contact, meaning that it’s hard to spread to someone else without being sexually intimate with them. It can be quite nasty, with small blisters appearing around your groin which will break open and produce open sores. The virus is characterised by extreme redness, itching and soreness around the genitals or even the anus with the pain exacerbated if urine travels over them. It is possible for you to develop HSV-2 from someone passing HSV-1 to your genitals, usually through oral sex, so its prudent to use a form of protection like a condom or dental dam to minimise exposure (with that said, it’s best to just abstain from sex for the period your herpes is flaring up).

While STI’s will often affect women differently to men, they generally experience identical symptoms with herpes. With that said, women are reported to be more likely to be infected with HSV-2 because of the nature of vaginal sex.

Having oral herpes will make it harder to get genital herpes

It has been proven that someone who already has HSV-1 will be harder to infect with HSV-2 than someone who has never had herpes before. Considering the majority of adults have HSV-1, which simply flares up at different points in their life, it means most people don’t have too much to worry from genital herpes.

How can it be treated?

While there is no cure for either form of the herpes virus, both can be treat effectively with herpes medications. Some people will have only minor discomfort from herpes while others will suffer with a great deal of irritation and discomfort, so it’s prudent to get information from an online sexual health clinic like ours and book a consultation with a doctor if you are experiencing any symptoms.

Should you be embarrassed?

Of course not, as many people live happy, healthy and sexually active lives with HSV-1 or HSV-2. Herpes is more of an uncomfortable nuisance than it is a medical danger, so while you don’t want to live with it, you shouldn’t feel ashamed for having a flare up or a virus most adults carry. Those with HSV-2 should be vigilant in making sure they don’t spread it to sexual partners by being honest and not pursuing sex when the virus flares-up again.

Other Virus Types

There are many other viruses we can help with from the common flu to COVID. Having an online consultation is the safer way if you believe you have a contagious condition and getting treatment.