Can You Pop A Cold Sore?

A cold sore isn’t like a pimple that you can just pop anytime. While pimples indicate that you may have a skin or hormonal problem, cold sores, on the one hand, indicate that you have a sexually transmitted disease.

Cold sores, which are also sometimes referred to as fever blisters, are caused by the herpes simplex virus which is present in the fluid inside cold sores. The herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) is actually very contagious. So if you pop a cold sore and the fluid inside it leaks out, you’re basically giving the virus an opportunity to spread.

What Are Cold Sores?

The most common manifestation of oral herpes, cold sores are typically due to infection with HSV-1, although there are times when HSV-2 can also cause herpes blisters to form inside or around your mouth, lips, cheek, nose, and chin.

When you contract HSV-1 and the virus becomes active, it causes these blisters to form on your skin. At times, only a single sore appears. Most of the time, however, when you get a cold sore outbreak, the blisters grow in a cluster.

In terms of appearance, a cold sore is usually quite small, and it may start off looking like a pimple or tiny bump. Then it will grow and become filled with yellowish or clear fluid. It usually takes several days before cold sores pop and breaks open.

Once they do, the fluid inside the blisters will start to seep out. Because of this, cold sores are sometimes described as weepy. The next phase of a cold sore outbreak involves the formation of a crust or scab over the sores. Eventually, the crust will fall off and the sores will disappear. An outbreak may last several days up to two weeks.

Are There Other Symptoms to Watch Out For?

checking face in the mirror

The first sign of a cold sore outbreak is called a prodrome. It refers to that tingling or itching feeling that you experience on the part of your body where the fever blisters are about to appear. Whether it’s oral or genital herpes, you’ll experience a prodrome right before the blisters form.

As you continue to experience recurring outbreaks, you’ll learn to recognize the warning signs of a prodrome. If you already have prescription oral medications for herpes on hand, the best time to take them is when you start to feel that burning sensation. Doing so may be helpful in shortening the duration of the outbreak, or even completely stop it.

Aside from the prodrome, you may also experience fever, muscle aches, headaches, pain, and swollen lymph nodes. These are also common symptoms of a cold sore outbreak. If it’s your first-ever outbreak, these symptoms may be severe, and you might suffer a lot of pain. Typically, though, recurring outbreaks cause symptoms that are less severe.

How Is Herpes Spread?

There are times when the herpes virus is active but it doesn’t cause blisters or cold sores to appear. Such instances are referred to as asymptomatic shedding. The risks of transmitting the herpes virus are actually the highest when you’re going through asymptomatic shedding.

That’s because the virus is active and you’re actually shedding or releasing the virus. You’re probably unaware that it’s happening since there are no symptoms, so you would have no way of knowing that you’re supposed to take precautions.

Both type 1 and type 2 herpes simplex viruses are easily transmitted through skin to skin contact. When the herpes virus causes blisters to form in your genital area, you can spread the virus through skin-to-skin rubbing during sexual intercourse.

When the blisters are on your lips or inside your mouth, even just kissing another person can cause the virus to spread. You can transmit the virus through any action that will cause the part of your body where the fever blisters are to come into direct skin contact with someone else.

kissing in a coffee shop

This means that if someone kisses you on the lips when you have cold sores, they are likely to contract the virus as well if they don’t have it already. If your partner is also HSV-1 positive, you may still want to refrain from kissing each other when either of you is going through a cold sore outbreak.

If you both have the virus already, kissing your partner at a time when you have cold sores may just trigger a cold sore outbreak for your partner. So even if you’re both HSV-1 positive, you should still minimize skin-to-skin contact during an outbreak.

Don’t Pop A Cold Sore

Aside from kissing, another thing that you should avoid doing during an outbreak is popping a cold sore. Remember that the herpes virus is present in the fluid inside your cold sores. So if you pop a sore open, you’re just allowing the virus to spread.

Even if you’re all alone when you pop a cold sore, it’s still not recommended. You can actually end up spreading the herpes virus to another part of your body when you break a blister open. If you do that, your fingers will come into contact with the fluid inside your cold sores, which means that your fingers become exposed to the virus.

Just because oral herpes and genital herpes are the most well-known forms of HSV infection doesn’t mean that fever blisters won’t grow on any other parts of your body. Fever blisters may also appear on your fingers, and even on the fleshy area surrounding your nails.

If you accidentally popped a cold sore and then immediately touched another part of your body like your eyes, you run the risk of developing oral herpes or herpes keratitis. Whereas cold sores don’t pose serious risks for your health when they’re just on your lips, fever blisters forming in your eyes can actually lead to serious damage.

When cold sores form just on the surface of your cornea, they can cause your cornea to tear, resulting in problems with your eyesight. If the fever blisters form deeper inside your cornea, however, the damage to your eyesight can be severe and it can even lead to vision loss.

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What Brings on Cold Sores?

If you have already experienced a cold sore outbreak, then you know it can be very painful and quite inconvenient. It can cramp your love life, too, since you’re not supposed to engage in oral sex or even kiss during a cold sore outbreak.

Unfortunately, some people experience frequent cold sore outbreaks. Such recurring outbreaks may be triggered by a variety of factors, although the triggers usually differ from one person to another. Learn more about cold sore triggers.

Cold Sores – What are They?

To put it simply, cold sores mean you have an STD called oral herpes. Not the best of news, but not a serious cause for concern either. Cold sores simply mean that you have to be extra careful during an outbreak so as not to spread the infection.

Usually caused by a virus called herpes simplex virus type 1 or HSV-1, cold sores are also known as fever blisters. They’re called such because a cold or fever can trigger the sores to appear.

Once you contract the herpes virus, it stays inside your nerve cells. The HSV-1 virus usually stays inside your facial nerve cells, which is why you get blisters on your face when the virus becomes active.

Once the virus reactivates, you’ll experience an outbreak of genital herpes. When the outbreak ends, the virus will become dormant again but it will stay in your nerve cells.

HSV-1 – How is It Transmitted?

HSV-1 is a highly prevalent infection that’s transmitted easily. Whereas you need actual sexual contact in order to acquire other STDs like chlamydia, you can contract HSV-1 even when you don’t engage in any sexual activities at all.

In fact, a huge percentage of people who have oral herpes acquired the infection during their early childhood. A mother who has herpes can pass the virus on to her child during childbirth. If the mother has cold sores or oral herpes, simply kissing her child already puts the child at risk of acquiring the virus.

passionate kisses

For adults, kissing and oral sex are the most common ways by which HSV-1 is spread. If you kiss someone on the lips when you have cold sores, that person is likely to acquire oral herpes as well. If you give someone oral sex, that person may develop genital herpes even if the virus you passed on is HSV-1 and not HSV-2.

In fact, experts estimate that approximately 40% of new cases of genital herpes infections are acquired after receiving oral sex from someone who had cold sores. Nevertheless, the majority of genital herpes cases are due to infection with the second type of herpes simplex virus, HSV-2.

It’s also possible to spread the virus through your saliva. If the herpes blisters are located inside your mouth, the herpes virus will most likely be present in your saliva. Anyone who comes into contact with your saliva may also become infected. This can happen if someone drank from the glass you just used or when you’re sharing utensils while eating.

Initial Cold Sore Outbreak

When you contract herpes for the first time and you experience an outbreak of cold sores, that’s referred to as a primary first outbreak. You will most likely experience whole-body symptoms such as headaches, muscle aches, and a fever. You may feel tired and weak during your first outbreak.

In general, primary first outbreaks are worse than subsequent outbreaks. When you first experience cold sores, they may be extremely painful. Herpes sores often begin as tiny bumps or blisters. The sores then break open, and the liquid inside them oozes out.

Once the sores break open, they will then form ulcers. Eventually, they will scab over and then the crust will just fall off. Once the sores completely disappear, it means that the outbreak is over. However, it’s common to experience a second outbreak in just a matter of weeks. Over time, the outbreaks should lessen in frequency.

What Triggers Recurring Outbreaks?

After your primary first outbreak, the virus may lay dormant inside your facial nerve cells. As the virus is dormant, you won’t experience any oral herpes symptoms like cold sores or muscle aches. Unfortunately, there are a lot of factors that may cause the virus to become active again and trigger another outbreak.

In general, anything that can cause your immune system to weaken may trigger another cold sore outbreak. If you have a fever or a cold, you may soon see blisters forming on your lips.

fatigue and headache

Fatigue can also weaken your immune system, so if you somehow ended up being fatigued, you may soon experience a cold sore outbreak. The same is true for stress. A high-stress event can cause the herpes blisters to form again.

For some people, recurring outbreaks may be triggered by other types of infections like upper respiratory infections. Hormonal changes can also cause your cold sores to reappear. Many women, for instance, experience recurring cold sore outbreaks when they have their menstruation.

There are also those whose cold sore outbreaks are triggered by extreme temperatures.  For some, prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause fever blisters to break out. If you experience an injury in the area where your cold sores usually appear, it may also trigger another outbreak.

Treatment Options

You won’t be able to completely get rid of the herpes simplex virus but you can manage your symptoms. Even without treatment, a cold sore outbreak can heal and go away after just a week or two. However, if you’re feeling a lot of discomfort during an outbreak, then it may be best for you to seek treatment.

If you’re feeling pain, you should try putting an ice pack or applying a warm cloth over the affected area. If you have over-the-counter pain relievers at home, you can also take them to lessen the pain.

Over-the-counter cold sore creams are also available, and some of them contain anesthetic agents that can help reduce the pain. If you can, try to get a prescription for oral antiviral medicines such as valacyclovir.

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Is HSV1 Dangerous?

For newborn babies, infection with the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1) can be quite dangerous. The risks of neonatal herpes are highest when the mother contracts oral herpes late in her pregnancy. Although it’s categorized as an STD, oral herpes caused by HSV1 can be passed on to babies during childbirth.

For adults, on the other hand, there are only rare cases when HSV1 causes dangerous complications. Usually, though, oral herpes doesn’t really lead to serious medical problems for healthy adults. Read on and learn more about HSV1 and oral herpes.

Overview

HSV1 is the first of two types of herpes simplex virus. It’s the cause of the majority of oral herpes cases, as well as that of a small percentage of genital herpes cases. The second type of herpes simplex virus is the one that usually causes genital herpes.

Although oral and genital herpes are the more prevalent forms of infection with HSV, there are also other types of herpes infections. When herpes infection causes sores or blisters to form in your eyes, it’s called herpes keratitis or herpetic keratitis. When the blisters form on your fingers, it’s called herpes whitlow or herpetic whitlow.

Both herpes keratitis and herpes whitlow can occur if the virus spreads from the sores in your oral or genital area. They can also happen if you rubbed your eyes after touching another person’s herpes sores.

Herpes Is Easily Transmitted

Unlike other STDs wherein you would need to have sexual contact with an infected person to contract the disease, you can easily get herpes even if you only had skin contact with herpes sores.

Because it is easily transmitted through skin contact, herpes is highly prevalent and considered extremely contagious. Oral herpes, in fact, affects more than 3 billion people worldwide, and that includes both children and adults.

dad giving son a kiss

Indeed, even children can contract oral herpes. It usually happens when an infected adult kisses a child. Experts estimate that the majority of people with oral herpes acquired the infection during early childhood.

One problem with herpes is that it usually doesn’t cause any noticeable symptoms. When this happens, it’s called asymptomatic shedding. It means that the virus is active and contagious, but you don’t know it because you’re not experiencing any symptoms. At such times, you could be passing the virus on to other people without knowing it.

Most people know that when they’re having a cold sore outbreak, they shouldn’t be kissing other people. But when it’s a case of asymptomatic shedding, you have no way of knowing that the virus is active.

HSV1 Symptoms

When HSV1 does cause symptoms, cold sores are the most common symptoms. Cold sores usually initially appear as tiny bumps growing in clusters. Then they will develop into blisters filled with fluid or pus. The blisters may appear reddish, yellowish, or whitish.

Although fever blisters or cold sores are small in size, they can actually cause a lot of pain. There are many instances when people who have very painful cold sores are unable to eat or drink because it’s too uncomfortable. Even if you experience pain, you should still drink plenty of fluids to avoid being dehydrated.

After several days, the blisters will pop, and a clear or yellowish fluid will ooze out of them. This stage of a cold sore outbreak is when the risks of transmission are the highest. This means that when your fever blisters are oozing with fluid, you should be very careful since you can easily spread the virus.

During the first outbreak, you may experience several symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes, fever, and muscle aches. After your first outbreak, the virus will stay dormant inside your body. Later on, the virus will become active again and cause another outbreak. For recurring outbreaks, the symptoms you experience may be less severe.

Possible Complications

When you have a cold sore, you should do your best to avoid spreading the virus to your eyes. If the virus spreads and causes a cold sore to grow in your cornea, the condition can be serious. Eye herpes can cause your cornea surface to tear, thus affecting your vision.

If a herpes blister forms in the middle layers of your cornea, it’s even more problematic because it can lead to severe damage and can result in blindness. Eye herpes is actually considered a prevalent cause of vision loss in the United States.

Herpes encephalitis is another serious complication caused by HSV1. This can happen when the herpes virus spreads to your brain and causes your brain to become inflamed. If you experience confusion and sensitivity to light, you should get yourself examined as these are common symptoms of herpes encephalitis.

headache and stress

Other symptoms of herpes encephalitis include confusion or stupor, fever, headaches, seizures, and neck stiffness. It can also cause changes in your behavior, personality, and mood. An episode of herpes encephalitis can last for several days; however, it may take up to months to recover from it.

For people with a weakened immune system, HSV1 may cause a widespread body infection. This is especially dangerous for those who are suffering from cancer or atopic dermatitis, as well as those who are HIV-positive.

Treatment Options

For a simple case of oral herpes, you may not necessarily need treatment since cold sores just heal and disappear on their own in a matter of days. However, you may need to take medication for pain if your cold sores are particularly painful.

Doctors usually prescribe antiviral medications like acyclovir. Oral antiviral medications can help shorten the duration of an outbreak, as well as lessen the frequency of recurring outbreaks.

Most people who suffer from recurring oral herpes outbreaks usually know when an outbreak is about to happen. They usually experience a burning sensation or itching in the area where the fever blisters are about to appear. The best time to take oral antiviral medications is when an outbreak is just about to start.

Aside from oral antiviral medications, you may also use topical antiviral creams. These are creams that you apply on your cold sores to shorten the healing time and relieve some of the pain.

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What Does It Mean to be HSV1 Positive?

When you test positive for HSV1, it means you’ve contracted an STD. HSV1 stands for herpes simplex virus type 1. It’s the virus that causes most cases of oral herpes. Some cases of genital herpes are also due to HSV1 infection.

Although it’s a sexually transmitted disease, HSV1 is not as dangerous to your health as other STDs like syphilis. Nevertheless, having oral herpes can affect your relationships and lifestyle.

Symptoms

You may not know that you have oral herpes because the infection does not really cause symptoms most of the time. However, even when you’re not showing any symptoms, the virus can still be active and can spread to other people. This is referred to as asymptomatic shedding, which is estimated to cause about 70% of new herpes infections.

When HSV1 does cause symptoms, you will most likely experience cold sores or fever blisters. Whereas blisters appear in your genital area when you have genital herpes, cold sores may appear on your lips, inside or around your mouth, on your cheeks, on or inside your nose, or down your chin when you have oral herpes.

When cold sores or fever blisters form, they may appear like tiny pimples at first. Then they will develop into blisters with a clear or yellowish fluid inside them. After a few days, the blisters will break or pop, then the fluid will seep out. After that, a scab or crust will form over the blisters, and then they will eventually heal and disappear.

A cold sore outbreak is typically accompanied by fever, pain, swollen lymph nodes, and muscle aches. Your very first outbreak may be very painful. Usually, though, subsequent outbreaks are accompanied by less severe symptoms.

HSV1 Transmission

Among all STDs, herpes is possibly the easiest to spread. All it takes is skin contact with the affected area. If it’s genital herpes, skin-to-skin rubbing during sex can cause the virus to spread.

couple sharing a cookie

If it’s oral herpes and the blisters formed inside your mouth, the virus may also be present in your saliva. When you eat or drink, make sure no one else uses your utensils, drinking straw, or glass before they’re washed. If your partner shares your spoon while you’re still eating, your partner may also acquire oral herpes.

A significant percentage of new genital herpes infections are actually caused by HSV1. This happens when you have oral herpes and you engage in oral sex with your partner. Most cases of genital herpes, however, are due to infection with herpes simplex virus type 2 or HSV2.

What to Avoid During an Outbreak?

Kissing

Because HSV1 spreads through skin contact, this means that if you or your partner are going through a cold sore outbreak, you should avoid kissing until the outbreak is over.

This doesn’t mean, though, that you should abstain from sex. You really only need to avoid skin contact with the affected area, so you can still have sex as long as you’re careful.

Giving oral sex

If you have a cold sore, it’s alright to have sex as long as you don’t kiss your partner or give her oral sex. If you do engage in oral sex, it’s highly likely that you will transmit the herpes virus to your partner. If this happens, your partner will most likely contract genital herpes.

Popping a blister

The fluid found inside cold sores or fever blisters actually contain the herpes simplex virus. If you break open a blister, the fluid will ooze out, and you run the risk of spreading the virus to your fingers or other parts of your body. If cold sores develop on your fingers, it’s called herpetic whitlow.

Touching your cold sores

If you directly touch a herpes blister, the virus can transfer to your fingers. You should wash your hands right away if you accidentally touched your cold sores.

Eating foods that are acidic or salty

When you eat acidic and salty foods, they may irritate your cold sores and cause more discomfort and pain. During an outbreak, try not to eat foods like pineapples, citrus fruits, and tomatoes. Salty snacks like pretzels, soda, and wine may also aggravate your cold sores.

Coping with a Herpes Diagnosis

Being told that you have an STD can be overwhelming. For those who are already aware that herpes is common and that billions of other people have it, being diagnosed with herpes may not be such a big deal.

shame and depression

However, the diagnosis may still come as a shock, especially if you don’t know how you happened to contract herpes. You may experience feelings of shame and fear. Knowing that it’s a lifelong infection can make you feel hopeless or helpless. It may even cause you to become depressed.

It may take you a while to come to terms with the fact that you have acquired an STD. You may want to consider talking to your partner about it. If you’re having a difficult time accepting the fact that you have herpes, you shouldn’t be embarrassed about seeking professional help.

Letting Your Partner Know

If you have been diagnosed as HSV1-positive, it’s best that you discuss it with your partner. It’s entirely possible that you may have acquired the infection from your partner, although she may not know it if she never showed any symptoms at all.

It’s also possible that you acquired the disease when you were still a child. People typically show their affection for children through kissing and hugging, and someone who had cold sores may have kissed you and passed the virus on to you. Try to be blame-neutral when you tell your partner that you have HSV1.

What’s important is that both of you are aware so that you can both take precautions. If your partner does not have HSV1, it’s best that you refrain from kissing and oral sex when you have an outbreak. You should also be aware of the warning signs of an impending outbreak so that you’ll know when to start abstaining from oral sex and kissing.

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Can HSV1 Kill You?

Although it is highly contagious, a typical case of infection with the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1) isn’t usually life-threatening. Cold sores, by themselves, do not cause death. However, in certain cases, oral herpes may lead to complications that can increase your risk of mortality.

For instance, if you have sexual contact with someone who is HIV-positive at a time when you have oral or genital herpes, your risks of contracting HIV increase significantly. Continue reading to learn about when HSV1 might be dangerous for you.

Overview

The herpes simplex virus has two types. The first one, HSV1, is more closely associated with oral herpes and fever blisters or cold sores. The second type, HSV2, is the cause of most cases of genital herpes.

However, either type can cause oral or genital herpes. Experts estimate that more than 20% of new genital herpes infections are caused by HSV1. This can happen if you had oral-to-genital contact which can cause HSV1 from your oral region to spread to your partner’s genital region.

Herpes blisters can also grow on other parts of your body, such as on your finger (herpetic whitlow) or around your eyes (herpes keratitis). Herpes gladiatorum, on the one hand, can occur if you got wounded or your skin broke during contact sports and you contracted herpes from someone else during the game.

HSV1 is the cause of most cases of herpes gladiatorum and herpes keratitis. You can contract herpetic whitlow if you touch herpes sores with your fingers, and it can be caused by either HSV1 or HSV2.

Why is HSV1 So Contagious?

young couple kissing

Billions of people have herpes and one of the reasons why this STD is so prevalent is that it’s easily transmitted. Did you know that you can contract oral herpes just by kissing someone who has it?

When someone who has cold sores kisses you, even just on the cheek, you will most likely get infected too. Many people acquire herpes during their early childhood, and it’s usually because someone with a cold sore kissed them.

Skin contact with herpes sores can cause the virus to spread. This is why you shouldn’t give your partner oral sex when you have a cold sore if you don’t want your partner to acquire genital herpes.

You could transmit the virus if you have a cold sore and you share your drinking straw or spoon with someone else without washing it first. But the herpes virus generally doesn’t live long on inanimate surfaces so it’s alright to share eating utensils as long as they’re washed clean first.

You could also inadvertently spread the virus from your mouth or genitals to other areas of your body if you touch your cold sores. This is usually how herpetic whitlow and herpes keratitis happens.

There are also many cases when oral herpes doesn’t produce any symptoms. So you and your partner may be unaware that one of you has HSV1, just because you don’t see any blisters or cold sores.

This is another reason why oral herpes is so easily spread. Since many people don’t know they have the virus, they’re unable to take precautions that can help them avoid passing the virus to their loved ones.

Does HSV1 Pose Serious Health Risks?

HSV1 can be very painful and irritating. Most of the time, however, it doesn’t really pose any serious health problems. For otherwise healthy adults, the most serious health complication that oral herpes can cause is probably dehydration. It can happen if you’re not eating or drinking enough liquids because of the pain your herpes sores are causing.

However, for people whose immune system is compromised, HSV1 may lead to serious complications. Studies indicate that herpes, whether oral or genital, can make you more vulnerable to HIV infection.

colds and fever

When people with advanced HIV infection contract herpes, they may experience more severe symptoms, as well as more frequent recurring outbreaks. This means that if you have HIV and you somehow acquired oral herpes as well, you will most likely experience severe pain, muscle aches, and fever during a cold sore outbreak.

HSV1 may also cause encephalitis, although this kind of complication is very rare. However, if the patient is a newborn, herpetic encephalitis may be fatal. Herpetic encephalitis may happen if the herpes virus travels to the brain through the olfactory nerve.

When left untreated, the mortality rate of herpetic encephalitis can be as high as 70%. However, in cases when the brain infection is treated right away, the mortality rate is significantly lower at around 30%.

How Do You Manage Herpes Symptoms?

Unless a cold sore outbreak causes pain and discomfort, you may not need any treatment at all for oral herpes. For those seeking treatment, antiviral medications are available. However, these medications will not totally cure your herpes infection. Once you contract herpes, the virus stays in your system for life.

Currently, there are three antiviral medications available for herpes treatment. These medications can help you by suppressing the virus and preventing or lessening outbreaks. Your doctor may give you a prescription for either valacyclovir, famciclovir, or acyclovir.

It’s best to take these medications the moment you notice any herpes outbreak warning sign. If you take these medications as soon as you feel the itching sensation that usually precedes a cold sore outbreak, you may be able to stop the outbreak, or at least shorten its duration.

If you’re suffering from frequent outbreaks, you may want to ask your healthcare provider if you can get daily suppressive therapy. If your doctor approves, you will need to take a small dose of antiviral medication on a daily basis in order to lessen the frequency of your cold sore outbreaks.

Over-the-counter pain relievers can also help if your cold sores are causing too much pain, or you can apply a topical anesthetic gel on the affected area. Alternatively, you can also put an ice pack on the sore skin. You may also want to consider using cold sore creams.

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Can I Swim with a Cold Sore?

The beach is one of the most popular destinations during the summer. Even a public swimming pool would be a great place to hang out to escape the heat. But if you’ve got health problems, that might just hinder you from having a great time in the water.

Swimming is fun and healthy, but would it be safe for you if you have a cold sore? Cold sores are known to be highly contagious, so you might be worried about passing the infection on to others if you’re having an outbreak. Find out whether it’s safe for you to go swimming with a cold sore.

Oral Herpes

Fever blisters or cold sores are a sign that you have contracted oral herpes. HSV-1 or herpes simplex virus type 1 is the strain that typically causes oral herpes. The second type, HSV-2, is the one that is highly associated with genital herpes.

In truth, because both types of virus can spread to other parts of your body, they can both cause either oral or genital herpes. It’s just that most cases of HSV-1 infections cause blisters to form on your mouth or face, while most cases of genital herpes are due to infection with HSV-2.

How is Herpes Spread?

intimate kisses

Herpes can be transmitted through a number of ways. Whether it’s HSV-1 or HSV-2, any skin contact with a sore or blister will most likely cause the virus to spread. Skin contact during sex can easily spread genital herpes, while kissing is one of the most common means by which oral herpes is spread.

With oral herpes, the virus may also be present in your saliva and not just on your cold sores. So aside from kissing, you can also spread oral herpes if you let other people drink from your cup or eat using utensils that you just used.

During an outbreak, the fever blisters will erupt and break on their own. That’s when the infected fluid inside the blisters ooze out. This is the time when the risks of transmitting the disease are the highest. And this is when you should be most careful about avoiding skin and oral contact with other people.

Can You Go for a Swim During an Outbreak?

If your main concern is that you might pass the virus on if you go for a swim when you have a cold sore, then you shouldn’t worry too much about it. You won’t be spreading the virus even when you swim at a public swimming pool.

Plus, powerful chemicals like chlorine are usually added to public swimming pools, and those chemicals are usually strong enough to kill the virus. However, if you’re concerned about whether your cold sores will worsen, then that’s a different story.

If you’re going to a public swimming pool, you should prepare yourself for a little bit of discomfort. Because of the chlorine that was added to the pool water, you may feel a stinging sensation in the area where your cold sores are located.

In addition, chlorine tends to dry out cold sores, which can then make the blisters crack and the fluid inside them to ooze out. If this happens, the virus may spread to other parts of your face. You can easily prevent this by applying petroleum jelly on the blisters before you dive into the water.

However, if you’re feeling a little bit run-down, you might want to stay home and rest instead. Although swimming is safe for your cold sores, physical exertion can drain your energy. And when you’re too tired, your immune system may find it harder to fight off the herpes virus.

On top of that, exposure to the sun can trigger a cold sore outbreak. So if you’re planning to head to the beach, you may want to consider minimizing your exposure to the sun.

Things You Shouldn’t Do When You Have a Cold Sore

Although going for a swim could be alright even if you have a cold sore, there are other things that you should be mindful of during an outbreak.

  • No kissing

As much as you would like to show your affection to your loved ones, try to refrain yourself from kissing as this might spread the virus. In particular, avoid kissing a baby when you have a cold sore because the baby might end up contracting neonatal herpes.

  • Avoid sharing your stuff

Anything that you’re using that might have come into contact with a cold sore shouldn’t be shared with anybody else. These include cutlery, cold sore creams, and even towels that you might have used to wipe your face.

  • Stop touching your cold sore
q-tip on mouth cold sore

The HSV-1 virus may transfer to your fingers and cause sores to grow on them. This happens too often, in fact, that doctors have a name for the condition. Herpetic whitlow happens when the herpes virus causes blisters to form on your fingers.

  • When applying a cold sore cream, don’t rub it

If you’re using a cold sore cream, just dab it on the blisters when you’re applying the cream. If you rub it, you may cause the sores to rupture and the infected fluid to seep out, which can then cause the virus to spread.

  • Avoid salty and acidic foods

During an outbreak, eating salty and acidic foods may aggravate your cold sores. Until your cold sores heal and completely disappear, it’s best to avoid eating pineapple, tomatoes, citrus fruits, wine, pretzels, soda, vinegar-based salad dressings, and other acidic and salty foods.

The Bottom Line

It’s definitely safe for you to swim with a cold sore. You just need to be mindful of a few things while you’re out on the beach or at a public swimming pool, like minimizing your sunbathing time or applying petroleum jelly on your cold sore before you go for a swim.

If your cold sore is causing too much pain or irritation, consider taking ibuprofen or other over-the-counter pain relievers to lessen the pain. And don’t forget to use a sunblock lip balm.

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Can HSV1 Be Cured?

The problem with herpes is that once you’ve got it, the virus stays with you. You may have heard of cold sore creams and medications, but they’re really only for managing the symptoms of herpes-like cold sores.

In truth, there’s no cure for herpes. And there’s no available vaccine, either. So if you happened to be unfortunate enough to acquire it, you would have an STD for the rest of your life. Learn more about how you can avoid herpes and how to manage cold sores outbreaks.

What is HSV1?

Herpes simplex virus type 1 or HSV1 is a virus that causes oral herpes, although there are instances when it can lead to genital herpes as well. Genital herpes, however, is most commonly associated with the type 2 virus or HSV2, but it can also cause oral herpes if there’s genital-to-oral contact.

Because the herpes simplex virus can be transmitted either through sores on the skin or oral secretions, the infection can easily spread. In fact, herpes is one of the most prevalent sexually transmitted diseases worldwide.

You can acquire herpes even if you don’t have skin contact with an infected person. If you share eating utensils, for instance, the herpes virus from an infected person’s saliva can easily transfer to you and you will end up with oral herpes.

Kissing is another common way by which HSV1 spreads. Any skin contact with a cold sore can transmit the bacteria. Hence, doctors strongly advise against kissing and oral sex when you or your partner is going through an outbreak of cold sores.

What are the Symptoms of HSV1?

cold sore on upper lip

Cold sores are the most recognizable symptom of oral herpes. They are also sometimes called fever blisters. When cold sores appear, they usually grow in clusters or group and they will be filled with fluid.

Fever blisters usually form on the lips or around it. However, the blisters may also grow on or inside your nose, cheek, chin, and even down your neck. They can also appear on the back of your throat or inside your mouth. When the cold sores grow on your face, it’s called oral-facial herpes.

Over a period of several days up to two weeks, the blisters will break and the fluid will ooze out of them. After this, a scab or yellow crust will form over the blister. The crust will just naturally fall off and disappear when the outbreak ends.

First Episode

The initial herpes outbreak is typically accompanied by pronounced symptoms. Because it is a viral infection, you may develop a fever and you may also experience muscle aches. A sore throat and swollen lymph nodes are also common symptoms. If the blisters form on your gums, they can make your gums reddish, swollen, and painful.

If your symptoms are particularly severe, it may be too painful for you to eat or drink. Because of this, many people who suffer an HSV1 outbreak sometimes become dehydrated and need hospitalization.

In many cases, however, herpes symptoms can be very mild such that they become mistaken for a different condition. Mild oral herpes symptoms are sometimes mistaken as pimples, chapped lips, or canker sores.

Recurring Outbreaks

Most people who acquire oral herpes experience recurring outbreaks. If your first episode was a mild one, your recurring episodes would also most likely be mild. However, the symptoms may vary for each person, so you may also experience a particularly severe outbreak.

You may experience a prodrome or a warning symptom. The prodrome usually occurs about a day or two prior to the actual appearance of cold sores. You’ll know it when you feel a tingling sensation or a burning sensation on the spot where the blisters will grow.

In recurring outbreaks, lesions or blisters will appear again on the same spot where the cold sores first grew. There are also times when the cold sores will appear on a different spot. Over time, the frequency of recurring outbreaks may lessen.

Why are There No HSV1 Vaccines?

If a pharmaceutical company started selling vaccines for herpes, it would certainly be a commercial success, considering that a huge portion of the population is infected with the virus. Unfortunately, it appears that developing such a vaccine isn’t easy at all.

First of all, the herpes virus can evade detection by your body’s immune system so even if you were injected with the vaccine, your body may still fail to develop antibodies to protect you from the virus.

On top of that, the herpes virus sometimes stays dormant for a long period. It’s possible for you to experience your first oral herpes outbreak years after you contracted the infection.

Developing a herpes vaccine requires hundreds of millions of dollars just for research alone. And it could take several years before clinical trials can even begin. Pharmaceutical companies have to deal with such obstacles before they can manufacture a viable HSV1 vaccine.

What Treatment Options are Available?

If you suddenly find painful blisters on your mouth or face, it’s best to have it tested right away. Even if the blisters are located on your face, you should have yourself screened for both HSV1 and HSV2 since both types of virus can cause fever blisters.

antiviral oral medication

Suppressive therapy with oral antiviral medicines is the most common form of treatment for cold sores. Antiviral medicines are prescription drugs, so you will need your doctor’s prescription.

Cold sores or fever blisters generally clear up on their own even if you don’t take medications. However, oral antiviral medicines like valaciclovir, acyclovir, and famciclovir can help you by speeding up the healing process.

For those whose outbreaks are particularly painful, doctors often also prescribe pain relief medications. You can apply topical anesthetic gels or cold sore creams on the blisters to lessen the pain.

If you do use cold sore cream, make sure you don’t share it with anyone else to prevent spreading the virus. Don’t forget to wash your hands thoroughly after applying the cream on your cold sores.

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Can You Pass HSV1 Without an Outbreak?

Did you know that millions of people have contracted herpes even without sexual contact? In fact, according to the World Health Organization, most cases of infection with the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1) in Africa are contracted in childhood.

On top of that, you can acquire herpes from someone who doesn’t even have any cold sores. That’s because herpes sometimes doesn’t cause any symptoms at all but the virus can still be active. To learn more about HSV1 and cold sores, continue reading.

Overview

Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease caused by either herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1) or type 2 (HSV2). Oral herpes is usually due to an infection with HSV1, while HSV2 typically causes genital herpes.

However, oral to genital contact can spread the infection. This means that you can still develop oral herpes from HSV2 and genital herpes from HSV1 if you engaged in oral sex with a person who has herpes.

Key Facts About Oral Herpes

  • When you contract either HSV1 or HSV2, the infection is lifelong.
  • The World Health Organization estimates that almost 70% of people under age 50 have HSV1, while 11% of the global population aged 15-49 are infected with HSV2.
  • Most cases of HSV1 and HSV2 infections do not cause any noticeable symptoms.
  • The most recognizable symptom of herpes is the appearance of painful and fluid-filled blisters at the site of the infection.

What are the Symptoms of Oral Herpes?

blisters and cold sore around mouth

You may have acquired herpes and not know it because both your partner and you are not showing any kind of symptoms. In cases wherein herpes does cause symptoms, they can be very mild, which can make you mistake the infection for something else.

However, there are also numerous cases wherein the symptoms are so severe. If this is the case for you, don’t hesitate to visit your doctor so you can get the medical treatment you need.

The appearance of blisters is one of the most common symptoms of HSV1 infection. If the blisters grow on your lips, that’s commonly referred to as cold sores or fever blisters. However, the blisters may also grow inside or even around your mouth, in which case it’s called orolabial or oral-labial herpes.

There are also many instances when HSV1 causes blisters to grow on or inside the nose, on the cheeks or chin, and even on the neck. If the blisters form on your face, it’s called oral-facial herpes.

A small percentage of HSV1 infection causes blisters to form on the genital or anal region, in which case it’s still referred to as genital herpes even if it’s not caused by the type 2 herpes simplex virus.

Before an outbreak of cold sores occurs, an infected person typically experiences a prodrome, which is a burning or tingling feeling on the area where the blisters are about to appear.

The first outbreak is typically accompanied by other symptoms such as a fever, sore throat, muscle aches, and pain. After the initial outbreak, the cold sores may reappear periodically, however, the frequency of recurrence may vary from person to person.

Is HSV1 Contagious?

With approximately 3.7 billion people affected worldwide, HSV1 is considered highly contagious. The transmission of an HSV1 infection typically happens through oral-to-oral contact. However, oral herpes can also be transmitted through contact with infected sores and saliva.

If you have skin contact with an infected sore or even just the skin around the blisters, chances are high that you will also contract the disease. The HSV1 virus may also be present in an infected person’s saliva, which is why kissing that person or sharing his or her eating utensils can cause you to become infected as well.

It’s important to remember that you can also acquire or pass on HSV1 even when the symptoms of oral herpes are not present. However, the risks of transmission are highest during an outbreak of cold sores.

If you’re going through an outbreak, it’s best to avoid any oral contract with other people. Even just kissing the cheek of another person can cause the virus to spread. You should also avoid sharing any object that may have had contact with your saliva such as drinking straws and eating utensils.

How is HSV1 Diagnosed?

Although doctors can easily diagnose oral herpes based on just a physical examination, laboratory tests are usually needed for an accurate diagnosis. Your doctor may order a viral culture, which means that a laboratory technician will need to take a tissue sample of the sores and analyze it.

culture on petri dish

A polymerase chain reaction test may also be done to determine the presence of herpes simplex virus in your blood, spinal fluid, or blister tissue sample. This test will also show which type of the herpes virus has infected you.

If you never experienced any herpes symptoms but would like to know if you have been infected, a blood test can determine whether HSV antibodies are present in your blood or not. If the antibodies are there, it means that you have been infected.

Is Treatment Possible?

Current treatment options for oral herpes are only for the management of the symptoms. Since it’s a lifelong infection, the virus cannot be eliminated from your body and the disease cannot be cured.

Prescription antiviral medications such as valacyclovir and acyclovir can help shorten the duration of the outbreak by making the sores heal sooner. These medications are usually prescribed to reduce the severity of oral herpes symptoms, as well as lessen the frequency of recurrence.

If you’re experiencing pain, your doctor may also give you pain medication or you can buy over-the-counter pain relievers. There are also creams containing an antiviral medication which you can use for topical application. You can also use a topical anesthetic gel to help you with the pain.

The Bottom Line

Herpes simplex virus type 1 causes a lifelong infection that can be easily transmitted and contracted. It’s important to remember that even if you are not going through an outbreak, you can still pass the virus on to other people.

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Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help with Erectile Dysfunction?

When you have erectile dysfunction, you may be desperate enough to try anything just to get a hard-on again. Aside from prescription medications and surgery, there are various herb-based supplements that have been scientifically shown to actually help improve erectile function.

Apple cider vinegar is also touted to supposedly help treat erectile dysfunction. Unfortunately, the scientific evidence backing such claims are scarce. Read on and find out why many think apple cider vinegar can help boost your erection.

Overview

Apple cider vinegar is simply fermented apple juice. Made from apple cider, it has long been used as a remedy for various health conditions such as diabetes. Recently, apple cider vinegar has gained popularity for its weight loss benefits.

Apple Cider Vinegar and Your Erection

Erectile dysfunction can occur due to a variety of reasons. Experts have long acknowledged that erectile dysfunction may be due to psychological factors such as too much stress or depression.

However, in most cases of erectile dysfunction, the cause is usually attributed to physical factors and medical conditions. Diabetes and obesity are two of the more common medical conditions that increase a man’s risk of developing erectile dysfunction.

thumbs down erectile dysfunction

Other medical conditions that can also lead to impotence include heart disease, high blood pressure, and kidney disease. Neurological disorders and spinal injuries such as multiple sclerosis can also make you lose your ability to achieve erections.

Apple cider vinegar is widely popular as a home remedy for the treatment of diabetes and obesity. Because apple cider vinegar is able to help with medical conditions that cause erectile dysfunction, many believe that apple cider vinegar can also help remedy erectile dysfunction.

What Alternatives Are Better Than Apple Cider Vinegar?

For treating erectile dysfunction, there are many other herb-based alternatives that have been scientifically shown to actually improve erectile function.

Eurycoma longifolia Long Jack

This Southeast Asian herb is more popularly referred to as Tongkat Ali. To date, scientists are continuing to discover more of Tongkat Ali’s many health benefits. However, the herb is quite popular as testosterone, strength, energy, and erection booster, as well as a stress reducer.

A 2018 study published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine noted that Tongkat Ali shows excellent clinical efficacy in improving male sexual health. The authors attribute this to Tongkat Ali’s effectiveness in improving erection hardness and quality, enhancing sex drive, increasing male fertility, as well as raising testosterone levels.

Various placebo-controlled studies have shown that Tongkat Ali is helpful in improving erection hardness score, increasing frequency of sexual intercourse, and improving overall sexual well-being. In addition, Tongkat Ali has also been proven to enhance male fertility.

Tribulus terrestris

Another popular traditional remedy for male sexual health problems, Tribulus terrestris is also scientifically proven to benefit men suffering from impotence. Tribulus terrestris has been the subject of numerous human and animal studies on male fertility and sexual health.

A 2018 placebo-controlled study, for instance, showed that Tribulus terrestris is beneficial for aging men suffering from both late-onset hypogonadism, erectile dysfunction, as well as lower urinary tract symptoms. Aging men treated with Tribulus terrestris showed great improvements in their testosterone levels and erectile function scores.

The effectiveness of Tribulus terrestris in enhancing erectile function and raising testosterone levels are largely attributed to the presence of steroidal saponins, particularly protodioscin. An antioxidant, protodioscin also exhibits positive effects on blood sugar and cholesterol levels, which is why Tribulus terrestris is also recommended for those who have diabetes.

If you are starting to experience problems with your erection because of your diabetes, you should start using Tribulus terrestris in order to prevent your erectile function from deteriorating further, as well as to help manage your blood sugar levels.

Horny Goat Weed

A popular traditional Chinese medicine herbal remedy for male sexual problems, Horny Goat Weed has been found to contain icariin, an antioxidant compound that exhibits phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) inhibitory effects.

PDE5 inhibitors are useful in treating erectile dysfunction because they help increase penile nitric oxide levels and enable the penile smooth muscles to relax, which then results in increased blood flow to the penile corpus cavernosum. Prescription erectile dysfunction medications are classified as PDE5 inhibitors.

The effectiveness of Horny Goat Weed in improving erectile dysfunction is largely due to icariin. Because of this antioxidant compound, scientists are also looking at the potential of Horny Goat Weed in treating cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

horny goat weed flower

Icariin extracted from Horny Goat Weed has also been found to have neurotrophic effects, which means that it promotes the growth of nerve cells. This is important because nerve cell damage in the penis can lead to erectile dysfunction. And when impotence is due to damaged nerves, treatment with prescription erectile dysfunction medications usually doesn’t help much.

However, in a recent study, the researchers showed that when sildenafil and icariin were used in combination to treat erectile dysfunction due to penile nerve injury, the results were much better compared to when sildenafil alone was used. The authors attributed this to icariin’s ability to promote the growth of nerve tissues.

Improve Your Erectile Function

Instead of taking apple cider vinegar, you’ll see better results if you take Male UltraCore. An outstanding male enhancement supplement, Male UltraCore contains potent scientifically-proven natural ingredients such as Tongkat Ali, Tribulus terrestris, and Horny Goat Weed.

By themselves, each of these herb-based supplements is able to help boost your erection. However, when they’re used in combination like in Male UltraCore, the effects are incredibly multiplied. This means that you can definitely expect your erectile function to improve when you regularly take Male UltraCore.

On top of these three healthful herbal ingredients, Male UltraCore also contains various other natural ingredients that are also effective in improving male fertility, increasing testosterone levels, and enhancing sexual desire and performance.

Ashwagandha, fenugreek, zinc, L-arginine, and maca are also included in Male UltraCore’s amazingly unique formula. In fact, you probably won’t be able to find any other male enhancement pill that’s as packed with potent ingredients as Male UltraCore.

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Does High Blood Pressure Affect Sperm Count?

Male infertility is becoming more prevalent worldwide. The age of paternity is also rising, as more men become fathers at an older age. Unfortunately, as you grow older, your risks of certain chronic diseases like diabetes also increase.

Studies have established that diabetes can indeed negatively affect male fertility. Recent studies have also shown that high blood pressure may lower a man’s reproductive capacity. Learn more about the relationship between high blood pressure and male fertility.

Normal Semen Parameters

The World Health Organization has established the standards for normal semen parameters. Although sperm count is the most commonly associated with male infertility, other sperm parameters are also measured during a semen sample diagnosis.

  • Semen volume
low sperm count and quality

After sexual abstinence for 3-5 days, the volume of your ejaculate should be at least 1.5 milliliters. If your semen volume is lower than that, you may have hypospermia.

  • Sperm concentration

This measures how many spermatozoa are present in 1 milliliter of your semen. The lower threshold is set as 15 million per ml, so if your sperm concentration is lower than that, you may be suffering from oligozoospermia.

  • Motility

At least 32% of your sperm should be motile, otherwise, it may indicate asthenozoospermia. Sperm motility refers to the ability of your spermatozoa to swim and move toward the egg cell.

  • Morphology

At least 4% of your sperm should have normal morphology, meaning their structure and physical appearance should be correct. A very low percentage of sperm with normal morphology is indicative of teratozoospermia.

High Blood Pressure and Your Semen Quality

A man’s sperm count may be influenced by several factors such as low testosterone levels. Sperm quality and other semen parameters may also be affected by stress, obesity, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and other health problems.

Men suffering from hypertension or high blood pressure tend to have poorer sperm quality, and they usually have one or more semen abnormalities. A 2017 study, for instance, revealed that men with high blood pressure had a much lower semen volume compared to men who didn’t have hypertension.

Sperm motility in hypertensive men was also lower at 41%, whereas men who had normal blood pressure had an average of 47%. Moreover, the sperm concentration and total motile sperm count of hypertensive men were also significantly lower.

The researchers also noted that taking at least one antihypertensive medication is associated with reduced semen volume and lower sperm count. Interestingly, the authors of the study found that different types of high blood pressure medications had varying effects on semen parameters.

The sperm motility, concentration, and semen volume of those who were taking beta-blockers were much lower compared to men who were not taking any antihypertensive medications.

Calcium channel blockers, on the one hand, were associated with decreased sperm concentration, while angiotensin-receptor blockers reduced sperm concentration but increased semen volume. Those who were taking diuretics to control their blood pressure were seen to have lower semen volume.

In another recent study, researchers analyzed the relationship between sperm count and chronic diseases. The authors concluded that having a low sperm count may actually be a sign that you have a high risk of developing chronic diseases such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and heart disease.

The results of this study revealed that men with low sperm counts had a higher likelihood of developing high blood pressure. Compared to men with normal sperm counts, those with low sperm counts also had a higher tendency to have more body fat and higher levels of triglycerides and bad cholesterol.

Improve Your Sperm Count

You don’t need a surgical procedure to make your testicles produce more sperm. There are actually numerous measures that you can take in order to increase your sperm count and improve your semen parameters.

Exercise

Working out does a lot of good things to your body, including increasing your testosterone levels and improving your fertility. Multiple studies have shown that when obese and overweight men lose weight by exercising regularly, it results in improved semen parameters.

Tongkat Ali

There’s ample scientific evidence proving that Tongkat Ali or Eurycoma longifolia Long Jack is effective in improving semen parameters and enhancing male fertility. Tongkat Ali has been shown to have positive effects on testosterone levels, sperm motility, sperm count, and the percentage of normal sperm morphology.

tongkat ali leaves and root

The fertility-enhancing effects of Tongkat Ali are largely due to the actions of the many antioxidants that the herb contains. Tongkat Ali antioxidants have been found to have a positive effect on testicular functions such as sperm production and testosterone synthesis.

The fact that Tongkat Ali is able to help reduce stress is another important factor. Experts recognize that stress is a factor to consider when diagnosing both sexual dysfunction and male infertility. By lowering your stress levels, Tongkat Ali not only helps you perform better in bed, but it also increases your fertility.

Tribulus terrestris

Another herb that’s rich in antioxidants, Tribulus terrestris has also been shown to have positive effects on male reproductive capacity. Both human models and animal studies show that Tribulus terrestris is effective in improving sperm motility and morphology.

In addition, the herb has also been associated with an increased sperm count and semen volume. Because Tribulus terrestris also increases testosterone levels, the herb is widely used as an aphrodisiac, athletic performance enhancer, and erection booster.

Zinc

Known to play an important role in testosterone synthesis, zinc is also necessary for sperm production. The mineral is needed for the normal development of spermatozoa, and men who are deficient in zinc tend to have a low percentage of sperm with normal morphology.

The Best Supplement for Increasing Your Sperm Count

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Tongkat Ali, Tribulus terrestris, and zinc are all included in the formulation of Male UltraCore. On top of these sperm count boosters, Male UltraCore also contains L-arginine, Ashwagandha, fenugreek, Horny Goat Weed, and many more potent sexual performance enhancers.

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* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.