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Fact or Fiction: Cold Sores
by Staff
Cold sores -- or fever blisters -- are an embarrassing part of life for many of us. Misconceptions abound about them, though. Can you separate the facts and fictions?

Most cold sores clear up in about two days.

  • fact
  • fiction
  • almost fact: The range is several days to two weeks.

The herpes simplex virus (HSV) causes cold sores.

  • fact
  • fiction
  • almost fact: The herpes duplex virus causes cold sores.

There are three types of herpes simplex virus.

  • fact
  • fiction
  • almost fact: There are four types.

You can get herpes through touching an infected person's mouth or sharing eating utensils with them.

  • fact
  • fiction
  • almost fact: You can get it only through kissing or touching someone, not sharing utensils.

Once you get herpes, you have it forever -- there is no cure.

  • fact
  • fiction
  • almost fact: HSV-1 can't be cured, but you can rid your body of HSV-2.

If a cold sore blisters and breaks open, it will infect other areas of your face.

  • fact
  • fiction
  • almost fact: If a cold sore blisters and breaks open, it will crust over.

Stress can trigger a cold sore.

  • fact
  • fiction
  • almost fact: Stress can make a cold sore heal more slowly.

By the time most people become adults, they've been infected with HSV.

  • fact
  • fiction
  • almost fact: Only about 20 percent of the adult population has HSV.

Even though almost everyone has HSV, only about 15 percent get cold sores.

  • fact
  • fiction
  • almost fact: It's more like 30 percent who get recurring cold sores.

If you think you have a cold sore, your doctor can run tests to find out for sure if it's herpes.

  • fact
  • fiction
  • almost fact: If the sore is around your mouth, your doctor probably won't even need to run a test.