Cold sore, also known as the oral herpes virus, manifests on the side of your lips. It’s caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 (HSV-1), and it spreads in different ways: direct skin contact and sharing personal items like toothbrushes, utensils, and water bottles.
However, once you have a cold sore, it’s time to change your toothbrush because the virus can live for days on it.
The virus is easily transferable when the blisters ooze, but showering with a cold sore or washing clothes in the same machine will not help it spread.
However, is the cold sore virus airborne? You may wonder. The answer is a big No. As earlier mentioned, the HSV-1only spreads through direct skin contact with the affected area.
Can Toothbrushes Cause Cold Sores?
Toothbrushes can transfer the virus, so it’s recommended to replace them once cold sores appear. Further, you must be careful not to spread the virus to the next user if your toothbrush touches the toothpaste edge. You can halt spreading the virus by taking more time to wash your hands, especially after touching the blisters.
Cold sores manifest as blisters before crusting over. However, sometimes they don’t show. They go away without treatment after two to four weeks. But at the same time, the virus can still live within your body for years. Hence, you can apply toothpaste on cold sores overnight when in the blister phase to numb the area, dry them out and prevent their growth. Use toothpaste with Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS)
How Long Can the Cold Sore Virus Live on a Toothbrush?
According to a study by the University of Oklahoma, the herpes virus can live on a dry toothbrush for 48 hours. However, on a wet toothbrush, it can live for seven weeks. Viruses and bacteria flourish where there’s food and water, making toothbrushes an ideal target. As long as the virus exists on a toothbrush, only a port of entry is needed to cause the infection, like a scratch.
Can You Spread Cold Sores Through Toothpaste?
You should be careful whenever you have cold sores to avoid unknowingly spreading them. For instance, you can leave the virus on toothpaste if the toothbrush touches the tube’s edge. For this reason, you should dispose of your toothbrush once cold sores manifest. Note that cold sores can spread even without showing. Here are some cold sore triggers;
- Emotional Stress
- Weak immune system
- Viral infection or fever
- Exposure to strong sunlight and wind
- Hormonal changes like menstruation
Should I go to the dentist if I have a Cold Sore?
Cold sores are highly contagious, making their outbreak a great inconvenience to your daily routine, including dental visits. Some dentists prefer not to tend to patients with cold sores because they can easily transmit. Find the fastest way to dry up a cold sore, then visit your dentist to avoid fueling its spread.
Alternatively, some dentists may still attend to you even with cold sores. But, thanks to technology, the dentist’s cold sore laser deals with the root of the problem, unlike surface applicants like toothpaste or ointment.
These lasers destroy HSV by heating the affected area without touching the skin to avoid harm outside the sore. The laser-focused heat kills the virus and prompts the body to heal faster than usual.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Should you put Vaseline on a cold sore?
Putting Vaseline on cold sores alleviates the uncomfortable dryness and cracking on your lips. Use a Q-Tip to apply Vaseline to the lesions and avoid direct skin contact. Vaseline is safe and gentle. So, you can use it as often as needed to make you comfortable.
How long does the cold sore virus live on hands?
The cold sore virus HSV lives for two hours on your hands. It’s the reason, you should wash your hands often and longer to eliminate the virus and prevent its spread.
Should I go to work with a cold sore?
You can go to work with a cold sore, but exercise much caution to prevent its spread. Cold sores are highly contagious, especially when they burst, ooze, and remain so until they heal completely. Most importantly, avoid contact with others until you heal.
Can cold sores spread to other parts of your body?
Since the herpes virus is highly contagious, it’s not only limited to the mouth and genitals. It can occasionally spread to the nose, cheeks, eyes, chin, and other body areas.
Will alcohol dry out a cold sore?
Applying alcohol to dry out a cold sore is not advisable because it will irritate, cause contact dermatitis, and inflame the skin. It’s a myth derived from the fact that most over-the-counter cold sore treatments contain alcohol. Thus, applying it directly to the sores can promote healing.
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), which is highly contagious. After you contract the virus, it can lay dormant until a trigger causes it to flare up, resulting in a cold sore.
Mostly, cold sores go away without treatment in one or two weeks. It’s important for people who experience frequent flare-ups to get antiviral therapy to reduce outbreaks and spread of HSV.
Most importantly, avoid sharing personal items like toothbrushes or contacting infected people to avoid spreading the virus.
Also see Should You Wet Your Toothbrush Before Applying Toothpaste?