February 10, 2021
Two scientists standing on a sidewalk

Researchers Sean R. Cuddy and Anna R. Cliffe of the University of Virginia School of Medicine have shed light on what causes cold sores to flare up. Image credit: Cliffe lab at UVA

Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have shed light on what causes herpes simplex virus to flare up, explaining how stress, illness and even sunburn can trigger unwanted outbreaks.

The discovery could lead to new ways to prevent cold sores and recurrent herpes-related eye disease from reoccurring, the researchers report.

Cliffe and her collaborators found that when neurons harboring the virus were exposed to stimuli that induce “neuronal hyperexcitation,” the virus senses this particular change and seizes its opportunity to reactivate.