Lyell Wallince asked:
Why are cold sores so painful?
Chris - Cold sores are the herpes virus - this is herpes simplex. There are two types of herpes simplex: type 1 and type 2. Cold sores traditionally are caused by type 1 herpes. This is a virus that gets into your body, usually by the age of 3 most of us have picked it up by kissing a parent.
In the first manifestation it goes into cells in the mouth and throat and infects those cells to amplify the virus many times over and increasing the infectious dose. The first presentation is you get a sore throat and high temperature; your glands come up around your throat. It then appears to go away for a long time, some people never see it again.
What actually has happened when you had a sore throat was the virus was also infecting sensory nerve endings that supply your mouth and throat. These nerve endings then transmit the virus back to the spinal cord or to whatís called the dorsal ganglion which is where the cell body for those nerves lives; adjacent to your spinal cord. In the case of the head and neck it goes up to the trigeminal ganglion which is underneath your brain. This is where the virus hangs out just as a small circular piece of DNA for the rest of your life. If you go to the post mortem room and you study people youíve died you can find evidence of the virus living in 80% of the populationís nervous system.
Periodically and in response to poorly defined stimuli (these can include menstruation, they can include sunburn and tissue trauma Ė if you get a cigarette burn this can sometimes make it happen) some signal goes back up the nerve, says to the virus, ďyouíre threatened, you need to come out.Ē It reactivates and the DNA turns on again, makes fresh virus particles inside the cell. They come back down the nerve cell to a patch of skin that nerve cells supplies, the virus comes out of the nerve, onto the skin, raising the skin cells producing an infectious lesion. Thatís a cold sore and the point of this is the virus uses the cold sore to infect another person - when you kiss someone youíre infectious. Thatís how the virus gets around but the rest of it is hiding inside your nervous system.
When it reactivates in that way it can damage the nerve itís in and those nerves very often are pain nerve fibres. They get stimulated by the activation of the virus and that is excruciatingly painful and it can persist for a very long time.
Lyle Rawlins asked the Naked Scientists:
Cold sores are a result of an attack by herpes simplex a virus that is similar to the one that causes chicken pox. it is a virus that attacks nerves so that is one of the reasons it causes peculiar sensations.
Cold sores are painful only because they stay for longer period of time and the virus which causes this infection can not be eliminated completely with help of any OTC treatments. Most cold sore infections can be recurrent and can produce severe skin itchiness, rashes, swollen glands as well as genital herpes. So it is essential to take care of the infection as soon as possible. There are several natural cold sore remedies that are easy to make at home and do not cost fortunes. You can find the best natural cold sore remedies at the following resource.
I have tried just about every product/ice/natural cure/etc. Best thing I have found by far is viradux-coldsore. You just use it like a chapstick 4x per day and no more gross cold sores. I think it's fairly new. Hope this helps! heliski55, Sat, 9th Mar 2013
Last time I went to the doc I was just starting to show the blisters, and along with the Acyclovir he gave a short course of ARV's as well. Not had them in the 6 months since, so possibly it does help. Was not the reason I went there, but nice to have the 2 for 1 treatment, I actually went there to get the repeat script for some hayfever meds. SeanB, Tue, 12th Mar 2013
Cold sores are painful because they are deep below the first layers of the skin causing inflammation and nerve damage. The infection causes white blood cells to attack the source of the infection, leading to further complications. To reduce the pain, you can get numbing spray or use natural home remedies, like garlic or aloe vera. I got that info from this blog article here (http://www.interceptcoldsore.com/7-cold-sore-home-remedies/) in case you want to check out some other natural remedies. Cheers! davinNoMo, Fri, 26th Jun 2015
The bad news is that the virus is now in your peripheral nerve root and hiding there like the terrorists in Somalia. At some random time in the future, they will perpetrate another outrage upon the person of your lip.