Can I Spread a Cold Sore to the Eye?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2019
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It is possible to spread a cold sore to the eye, primarily if you have open sores in other areas of the body. Transmission usually occurs when one touches the drainage from an open sore and then rubs one or both eyes. Cold sores can be transmitted to almost any vulnerable area of skin, especially mucus membranes like the eyes, nose, mouth, and genitals.

Cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus-1. The virus can be spread through kissing or other skin to skin contact. Many times the virus will lie dormant in the body for weeks after infection, after which time sores may erupt at the area of transmission. Sometimes sores do not appear for several months or even years after transmission, although this is unlikely. Sores are usually small and red with an amber-colored fluid inside.

When you spread a cold sore to the eye, you may experience some slight irritation or tingling within a few days of exposure. Eventually, a red bump may erupt on the eyeball itself or on the surrounding skin or lids. This can cause a great amount of pain as well as pose certain health risks. See a doctor right away to have any blisters or sores on the eye investigated further.


Aside from the noticeable bump which is generally present when a cold sore is spread to the eye, there may also be generalized redness and tenderness, and vision may be affected. Most of the time, long-term damage is not done since cold sores are usually considered harmful. Sometimes, however, spreading a cold sore to the eye can cause lasting corneal damage. For this reason, any lumps on the eye should be treated by a medical professional.

To avoid spreading a cold sore to the eye, you should avoid touching an open sore. If you have to touch a cold sore, wash your hands thoroughly directly afterward and avoid touching the eyes are any other area of the body. If you are concerned that you may have spread the virus, speak with a doctor before an outbreak occurs. He or she may be able to give you medication which may help suppress the virus to prevent cold sores from erupting, or to make them less severe in nature if they do occur.


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Post 1

I am swetha. I am 26 years old and married and I have a baby who is 11 months old and I still feed him.

I have had a cold sore or herpes problem since my childhood.

I was taking the herpes treatment and taking "Zovirax" tablets of 400mg as per my doctor's instruction. I was taking it weekly once for three months and when we were planning for a baby I stopped it. Then I didn't get any cold sores during my pregnancy and after my delivery, but a week ago, I got one.

I want to know now when I feed my baby, can I start taking the tablets once weekly as a preventive action?

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