Could these really be cold sores?
December 26, 2012 3:40 PM Subscribe
Could I really be experiencing cold sore breakouts this minor? Background info inside:
posted by anonymous to health & fitness (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I understand how HSV blood tests work and that they don't tell you much of anything at all without active breakouts. I still talked my doctor into testing me about 10 years ago and received a positive result for HSV I because I was curious. I know that a significant percentage of the population is HSV I positive, and many will never experience active outbreaks, and since I've never had one to my knowledge, I didn't consider it to be a big deal. I recall friends and relatives who got cold sores when I was a kid, and I've always assumed I somehow picked up the virus from one of them when I was younger.
However, a few years ago, I got a small blister on the border of my lip, about the size of a pimple, that took an awful long time to heal and scabbed over in a manner much more like a cold sore than a pimple. I visited the campus clinic and got a swab test that returned negative. The next time I got a small, oddly-behaving pimple-like thing on my lip a couple years later, I asked my current care provider about it, and she said that since it was so small (with so little fluid) a swab test would probably come back negative either way, and that given the location and me being positive for HSV I, I should assume it's a cold sore and treat it as such. I got another one about a year after that, and the same clinician again wouldn't test it, and just wrote me a prescription for an antiviral to fill as needed. (I didn't take it.)
In both cases I've erred on the side of caution and treated it like a cold sore to protect my partners, but the more I think about it the more skeptical I am. These are very small blisters, and the friends I know who get cold sores (even the ones who've had them for years and now get what they consider to be minor breakouts) usually have much more significant breakouts. What's more, mine always appear to be single blisters rather than the characteristic cluster of blisters. The only difference between these and the normal acne/pimples I sometimes get around my mouth (and the rest of my t-zone) is how long they take to heal and the fact that they scab over.
The next time it happens I'm going to make a point to see a different clinician about it for a second opinion, but in the meantime, does anyone here have any experience with cold sore/HSV breakouts this minor? Is it really likely that that's what I'm getting? Or is it just weirdly-healing pimples? I know YANMD etc.