If you've ever wondered why you always seem to get one of those pesky cold sores, new research suggests your genes might have something to do with it.
Researchers from the University of Utah and the University of Massachusetts have identified a gene called C21orf91 that seems to be linked with herpes simplex virus type 1. Their work is published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
The most common sign of the activated herpes virus is mouth cold sores. Once contracted, the virus stays in the body but can go into dormancy. Reactivation of the virus -- the causes of which are still not completely known by scientists -- leads to the cold sores.
The researchers looked at the genes of 618 people, 355 of whom had the herpes simplex virus type 1. They found that two variations of the C21orf91 were linked with protection against reactivation of the herpes virus, while two variations of the gene were linked with having a lot of outbreaks of cold sores.
"There is no cure for HSV-1 and, at this time, there is no way for us to predict or prevent cold sore outbreaks," study researcher Dr. John D. Kriesel, M.D., research associate professor of infectious diseases at the University of Utah School of Medicine, said in a statement. "The C21orf91 gene seems to play a role in cold sore susceptibility, and if this data is confirmed among a larger, unrelated population, this discovery could have important implications for the development of drugs that affect cold sore frequency."
Though often confused, cold sores are different from canker sores in that canker sores are not contagious while cold sores are, according to the Mayo Clinic. Cold sores can last anywhere from 10 to 14 days, and appear as a blister filled with fluid around the mouth.
For information on how to get rid of a cold sore, read this piece from HuffPost blogger Thomas P. Connelly, D.D.S., a cosmetic dentist based in New York City.