Cold Sore Facts

Welcome to, a site focused on useful information about cold sores.

Common Facts about Cold Sores

  • Cold sores are caused by a common virus which affects an estimated 8 out of 10 people.[1]
  • Cold sores are NOT something that you get from being dirty, careless or going through puberty – they are caused by a widespread virus that is as easy to catch as the flu.
  • Once you catch a cold sore, the virus resides inside the body permanently (just like every other virus) and for some people this can mean that a cold sore may pop up from time to time.
  • Over 75% of adults have been exposed to the cold sore virus at some time in their life.[1]
  • Approximately 30% of people have recurring cold sore symptoms[2]
  • The rate of cold sore symptoms coming back is typically once every three months, or four times a year. However many people very rarely experience symptoms (or never experience them) and some people experience them more regularly than this.
  • The body immune system is the key factor in the defence against the virus and recurring outbreaks.
  • It can take a few days for a cold sore to develop when you first contract the virus, usually between 2 to 20 days after contact. [3]


1. Cunningham A.L., et al, (2006) “Prevalence of infection with herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 in Australia: a nationwide population based survey”, Sexually Transmitted Infections Research Centre: University of Sydney, Apr;82(2):164-8

2. D. Scott Smith, M.D., (2008) “MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: Herpes labialis”, US National Library of Medicine

3. Hilton, Lisette., (2002) “Cold Sore”, Gale Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health

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