The diagnosis of herpes (cold sores) is easily made based on the visual appearance of the lesions, and the best approach is to see a doctor at the first sign of a blister. If there is concern that the rash may not be herpes, a swab of blister fluid may be collected for viral culture or polymerase chain reaction ( PCR ) test. This is most useful in the first 48 hours before the blister has crusted over. If lesions resolve, then cultures are of no help, because there's nothing left to culture. Culture results take a minimum of three to five days.
Our first regular contributor, the heart specialist Peter Libby, comes to grips with the issues like the "kerfuffle" over cholesterol. And he offers an insider’s view of the way researchers work — not as solitary drudges, but as a lively, talkative community whose debates may sometimes contribute to public uncertainty over medical issues.
Dr. Libby is professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of cardiovascular medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. His influential studies have helped explain how inflammation contributes to atherosclerosis. Read more about Dr. Libby's affiliations and industry relationships .
Another thing to consider is whether or not your concerns are in the context of a committed relationship. If the person with herpes is someone with whom you would like to, or plan to, have a long-term partnership, then you may be more willing to take and accept risk. If you're not sure, you may choose to practice safer sex and/or avoid certain types of contact. The American Sexual Health Association's Herpes Resource Center , which has information about herpes support groups that may be especially useful in helping people with and without herpes determine how to have sex comfortably and safely.