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Herpes Simplex Virus 1

The Fever Blister Struggle

Aw yes, the herp.

Those pesky, painful blisters you get on your lip every once in a while, is a form of herpes called, Herpes Simplex Virus 1.

I, along with most of America, have HSV-1.

You're probably thinking, "Dang, girl! What have you been doing?!"

Truthfully, I didn't get HSV-1 the way you might think. I got it from one of my parents who got it from one of their parents. HSV-1 is most often transmitted through kissing, sharing lipstick, sharing a drink with a friend or loved one, and more. In my case, I was most likely infected when I was a child after getting a kiss from my mom or dad.

I went back and forth about posting something like this because there's such a stigma about it. As I was doing research on this virus I found out that just about 80 percent of America has HSV-1. It's not uncommon and now I don't feel so weird about it.

I never really understood how or why I get fever blisters/cold sores. They usually flare up randomly or when I'm stressed out. I did a little digging and educated myself on a few things.

HSV-1 can turn into HSV-2. HSV-2 is the result of transmitting HSV-1 to the genital area. When you have a flare-up and then decide to perform oral pleasure to your significant other, you can give them genital blisters, aka genital herpes. Then they can give you genital herpes. It’s a cruel, cruel cycle.

Another interesting fact about HSV-1 is that you may not even know you have it. You can go your entire life without a single flare-up. Once you are infected, the virus lays dormant in your nerve cells. If you are prone to stress, depression, and illness the dormant virus opens its sleepy eyes and decides to come out of hiding for a week or two.

What exactly are fever blisters/cold sores?

These sores or blisters are highly, highly contagious. They are filled with nasty liquid and usually burst as time goes on in the healing process. They then scab over and heal. In most cases, like mine, they can be painful and annoying.

How long do flare-ups last?

My flare-ups last between one to two weeks, which is normal. If I’m stressed out I’ll test myself by running my teeth over my bottom lip to see if I’m getting a flare-up. When I feel a blister coming up, I grab my off-brand Abreva and use it to alleviate the pain. If you don’t pick at the blister, they usually go away quicker.

What causes a flare-up?

Anything can cause a flare-up. Mine usually happen during stressful times or if my depression/anxiety is rearing its ugly head. PMS can also bring about a flare-up. Colds, the flu, even the stomach bug can activate the virus.

Sadly, there is no cure for HSV-1 but there are steps you can take to prevent the spread of the virus.

1. Wash your hands.

 When you touch a blister, even if it’s new, that is enough to spread it to someone else or another part of your body (eyes, nose, inside of mouth, and genitals). As soon as you make contact with the infected area, wash your hands.

2. No Kissing

Like I said before, kissing is how I got HSV-1. When you have a flare up, do not kiss babies or anyone for that matter.

3. No Sharing

Sharing lipstick, straws, spit, etc., during a flare-up can spread the virus to someone else.

4. Invest in Abreva.

Abreva and products like it, don’t cure fever blisters or cold sores, but it does alleviate pain and shorten the lifespan of the flare-up.

5. Go to the doctor and become educated.

If you have no idea what’s going on or why you are having these blisters, see your doctor. They can run some tests and diagnose you that way. They can prescribe you some antivirals to help with the pain and shorten flare-up time.

I go to great lengths to keep my HSV-1 contained by washing my hands, carrying Germ-X with me at all times, keeping my hands away from my face, and keeping physical contact to a minimum while in a flare-up.

Hopefully, you learned something new today.

I am not a medical professional. These are my interpretations of what HSV-1 is and how it affects me. If you need to learn more about this topic, I suggest speaking with your doctor.

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