Pharmacy Corner
Cold Sores: What You Need to Know How did I get the virus?

The cold sore virus is highly contagious and can spread through contact with active sores. It can also spread by:

  • Sharing drinking glasses, eating utensils, lip balm, towels or creams of an actively infected person
  • Kissing or touching their saliva
  • Touching the blisters or fluid directly

While a cold sore is most contagious during an active outbreak, there is also the possibility of spreading when there are no symptoms at all. The highest likelihood for spreading the virus are the few days before the cold sore is about to erupt (even before the tingling, burning or itching) and few days after the sore has healed. Take extra care to avoid touching the area during these times to prevent spreading the virus to others.

Who’s at risk?

Anyone who comes into skin to skin contact with a person infected by the virus can catch the infection.


Up to 40% of people 20 or under are infected with HSV-1, increasing to 65% in those older than 70.6