Scientists have now found an obscure gene that seems to affect the likelihood of having recurrent cold sores. Some expressions of the gene cause cold sores to recur frequently, while at least two expressions protect against cold sores, discouraging the virus from occurring more than once.

What is a cold sore? Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus, most often type 1 (type 2 is most often responsible for the herpes blisters that occur on genitalia), although both types can affect the body anywhere.

What are cold sores? Some people have a hard time distinguishing between cold sores and canker sores. Cold sores are blisters, usually on the outside of the mouth. Before the blister occurs, most people feel pain or discomfort, and then the blister goes through stages: first being a bubble, and then popping and spreading herpes-contaminated puss. Transmission is possible as soon as the virus becomes active (when the tingling begins).

(In contrast, canker sores are ulcers that can be caused by stress or an overly acidic diet, and usually occur inside the mouth).

How do you get cold sores normally? Some people inherit them: there’s an 80% chance that they’re passed on through pregnancy (much higher than genital herpes, which is only about 30% with an active outbreak and 2-8% without). Other people get them through touch.

How to get a cold sore through touch: the herpes family of viruses, which includes the chicken pox and shingles, can lay dormant in the body, waiting for the immune system to be weakened, or for conditions created by a gene, etc., to reawaken and cause illness. Once the virus is active, it sheds, and can be transmitted through touch. This can start and continue for a week or two before and after the actual symptoms, depending on the person and strain.

For people already infected, (like parents and grand parents who had chicken pox when they were children) re-exposure can strengthen the immune system against another outbreak. For others, it means that they may contract the virus.

For those who feel like they must have the worst possible expression of gene C21orf91, work against biology by strengthening your immune system and reducing environmental triggers (stress, exhustion) that may encourage cold sores to re-emerge.

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