The cold sore virus

A new survey revealed that four in five cold sore sufferers in New Zealand feel having the common virus negatively impacts how they feel about themselves.

From feelings of self-consciousness (58%) to embarrassment (46%) and unattractiveness (41%), cold sore sufferers are choosing to hide away from social situations and dates, in a bid to avoid feeling embarrassed. The research, conducted by a cold sore treatment company, comprised a nationally representative sample of 2019 New Zealanders, 18-years-old and above.

Most sufferers admitted to judging themselves for having a cold sore, and half those surveyed were fearful of being judged by others; some shying away from physical contact, such as handshakes or hugs, or feeling that others were avoiding physical contact with them.

Among sufferers, the research indicated Gen Z were the most impacted, with over 80% changing plans or avoiding social situations altogether (60%) when faced with a cold sore.

Pharmacist Amelia Gardner says up to 80% of the population carry the virus which can cause cold sores, so we shouldn’t really be so concerned with what other people think, because it’s highly likely the person we fear is judging us probably has the virus too.

She says that while the virus can be spread through saliva and skin-to-skin contact, basic hygiene practices and limiting intimate physical contact will help to limit the spread.

Amelia adds that it’s an old wives’ tale that treatments like ice, alcohol or even Vaseline will cure a cold sore.

“Opting for an oral or topical medication from your local pharmacy can stop the virus from reproducing, enabling you to get on top of the outbreak.”

Visit the New Zealand Herpes Foundation website to learn more:

• 69% of Cantabrians surveyed have suffered from cold sores
• 57% of Cantabrians say they feel self-conscious, 44% feel embarrassed and 38% feel unattractive when they have a cold sore.
• 42% of Cantabrians have avoided a social situation, 17% cancelled a date, and 12% worked from home instead of going into the office when they had a cold sore.
• 51% of Canterbury respondents said they are not bothered when they see someone with a visible cold sore.

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