I told you it’s not herpes…

I’ve been saying it over and over on this website.  It’s practically my personal mantra at this point.  In fact, if there was one single myth I want to bust more than any other with this website, it’s this one.

Don’t make me come through this screen and beat it into you.

RAS is not caused by herpes.

But it’s just so ingrained in our collective thought, it seems like I’m never going to break through.  I thought I’d need to do something a bit more interesting.

And then it occurred to me.  I’ve never actually had a blood test for herpes.  So like Eric Northman, I put my blood where my mouth is.  (See what I did there?)

I got tested for herpes, just to know, once and for all.  To be honest, I was a little bit nervous about it, not because I thought I had it, but because you can carry herpes for years and never show any symptoms.  Granted, I would have had to have had herpes since the day I was born, but still…  What if I had it and didn’t know it?  I’ve put all this time and energy into this site and here I was contradicting myself.

Luckily, I had nothing to worry about.  It all came up negative.  And just in case you’re the “show me” type, I’ll show you:

As you can see, for each test it gives an index value to interpret the results.  Anything below a .9 index value means you came up negative – don’t have herpes.  I tested at .19 for herpes simplex 1 (usually associated with oral herpes/cold sores), and .04 for herpes simplex 2 (usually associated with genital herpes).

So there you have it.

If canker sores are caused by herpes, and I get canker sores constantly, but don’t have herpes…

Well, it just doesn’t add up, does it?

I would encourage anybody to get tested for herpes, whether they cause canker sores or not.  It’s a very common and contagious virus that you could be carrying (and spreading) without even knowing it.  According to my doctor, some people carry it their whole lives and never show a single symptom.  It’s cheap and quick, and very much worth it.


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Showing 2 comments
  • Dom Walton

    Great article, and I 99.7% agree. The other 0.3% is for people who suffer with RAS who also have the Herpes Simplex 1 virus. HSV1 is what causes cold sores which normally appear around the lips. The sores can also appear elsewhere on and in the body, albeit rarely. I do have both and on occasions have had ulcers develop on the inside of my lips which I am convinced have been caused by HSV1. The onset is very rapid, with swelling followed by ulceration which resembles more of a grazed surface rather than the deep excruciating pits. The pain is not as bad or constant until the area comes into contact with a cup/mug or fork/spoon or slice of bread/toast etc. then you know about it! These ulcers also coincided with my being aware that the virus had been activated (it makes me feel dreadful for about 36hrs). If you have HSV then L-Lysine can help (a lot), I recommend you try it.

    To sum up (IMO)… if you have never had any cold sores but you get mouth ulcers, then they are very very unlikely to be caused by HSV. If you get mouth ulcers and you do also have HSV1, then it is possible that you may sometimes get ulceration caused by the virus when it is active.

  • Joe Scott

    Hey Dom!

    My take on that is this (keeping in mind I am in no way a doctor):

    If RAS is an autoimmune condition, brought on by an overresponse in the immune system, then any time a cold or virus or infection hits the body, you can wind up getting them. God knows, any time I get anything, even a sinus infection, I break out with ulcers.

    So it makes perfect sense to me that someone with HS1 would break out in ulcers when they have a cold sore flareup, but that would be correlation more than causation. In that the HS1 may be prompting the outbreak, but so would the common cold. It’s not specific to the HS1.

    Just my theory, anyway.

    My only question would be, do the ulcers in your mouth pop up in the same way the cold sores do? Like, do they come up as fluid-filled blisters? If so, than yeah, I’d say that’s definitely related. Or maybe the HS1 does creep just inside the lips and cause a rupture, which then ulcerates just like any mouth trauma would do. In that case, the spot may have begun as a cold sore but quickly became a canker sore.

    This is something I honestly hadn’t considered. I’d still argue that they are two separate conditions, but one can exacerbate the other.

    Interesting discussion. 🙂

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