Yes, cold sores are a form of herpes. Cold sores – often referred to as “fever blisters” – are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV)1. These painful blisters are usually caused by HSV type 1, or HSV-11. However, cold sores can also be caused by HSV type 2, or HSV-2 – although HSV-2-related cold sore outbreaks are less common.1
What’s the difference between HSV-1 and HSV-2? 2
HSV-1 is commonly referred to as oral herpes, whereas HSV-2 is commonly referred to as genital herpes. HSV-1 is extremely common, and often produces cold sores in the area around the lips and mouth. HSV-2 is less common, and often produces herpes lesions in the area around the genitals or rectum. Although HSV-1 can produce lesions in the genital area, most cases of genital herpes are caused by HSV-2.
Is the herpes simplex virus contagious?2
Yes, both forms of the herpes simplex virus are contagious.
HSV-1 is transmitted through oral secretions, and can be spread through kissing, sharing of objects like toothbrushes or utensils or close contact with an infected person. HSV-2 is generally transmitted through sexual contact with someone who has a genital HSV-2 infection.
It’s important to note that both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be spread to others even when no cold sore is present.
Does the herpes simplex virus go away? 2
Once a person has been infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2, the virus remains in their body for the remainder of their life. The virus is not always active – it lies inactive until a cold sore trigger activates it once again.
Is there a cure for the herpes simplex virus? 2
Currently there is no known cure for the herpes simplex virus. However, there are a variety of over-the-counter and prescription cold sore treatments available, which are intended to help alleviate the pain and discomfort caused by cold sores.
Can cold sores be prevented?3
With prescription Sitavig® (acyclovir), 50mg Muco-Adhesive Buccal Tablet, it may be possible to prevent a cold sore from forming. In clinical trials, 35% of patients did not develop a blister, when Sitavig was applied soon after symptoms emerged.
Clinical trials also demonstrated that Sitavig reduced duration of episode by ~1 day vs. placebo. Plus, half of patients treated with Sitavig went an additional 40 days before having another cold sore episode (the average was 105 days), and 36% of patients were still free from another outbreak 10 months after their single-dose Sitavig treatment.
How can I get Sitavig?
Sitavig is available by prescription only. Click here to find a Sitavig prescribing physician near you.
1 – WebMD (March 23, 2015). Understanding Cold Sores — the Basics [Skin Problems & Treatments Guide]. Retrieved November 2, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/understanding-cold-sores-basics
2 – WebMD (September 30, 2014). Herpes Simplex: Herpes Type 1 and 2 [Genital Herpes Health Center]. Retrieved November 2, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/genital-herpes/pain-management-herpes
3 – Bieber T, et al. Efficacy and Safety of Acyclovir Mucoadhesive Buccal Tablet in Immunocompetent Patients With Labial Herpes (LIP Trial): A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Self-Initiated Trial. J Drugs Dermatol. 2014;13(7):791-798. View study (link will lead you to the JDD site).
Indication & Important Safety Information
Sitavig® (acyclovir), 50mg Muco-Adhesive Buccal Tablet is indicated for the treatment of recurrent herpes labialis (cold sores) in immunocompetent adults.
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
Sitavig should not be used in patients with known hypersensitivity to acyclovir, milk protein concentrate, or other components of the product.
Sitavig has not been studied in pregnant women or in immunocompromised patients and no interaction studies have been performed. Sitavig’s safety and efficacy have not been established in pediatric patients.
Sitavig is a Pregnancy Category B product; therefore it should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit outweighs the potential risk to the fetus. It is not known if Sitavig is excreted in breast milk; however, systemic absorption is minimal.
In a controlled clinical trial Sitavig’s most common side effects (greater than or equal to 1%) were:
headache (3%), dizziness (1%), lethargy (1%), gingival pain (1%), aphthous stomatitis (1%), application site pain (1%), application site irritation (1%), erythema (1%) and rash (1%). In the same trial these side effects ranged from 0%-3% for placebo.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/default.htmor call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Click here for Full Prescribing Information.