Cold sore is a typical viral illness which is also called fever blister which are little blisters filled with fluid that occur on and around your lips. These blisters are frequently arranged in patches. A scab that can last several days forms when the blisters rupture. Cold sores typically disappear without a scar after two to three weeks.
By making intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cold sores can transfer from one person to another. Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and, less frequently, herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) are typically the cause of cold sores. Both of these viruses are spread through oral sex and can harm your mouth or genitalia. Even if you can’t see the sores, cold sores can spread to other people.
It appears that cold sores have no cure, although treatment can help control outbreaks. Sores can heal more quickly with the use of prescription antiviral tablets or creams. Additionally, they could lessen the incidence, duration, and intensity of upcoming outbreaks.
Typically, a cold sore goes through the following stages:
- Tingling and itching. Many people experience tingling, burning, or itching around the lips for about a day before a tiny, painful, hard spot develops and blisters burst.
- Blisters. Usually, little, fluid-filled blisters appear at the edge of your lips and can occasionally be seen inside the mouth, on the cheeks, or around the nose.
- Oozing and crusting. It’s possible for the tiny blisters to combine, explode, and leave shallow open wounds that ooze and crust over.
Depending on whether this is your first outbreak or a recurrence, your signs and symptoms will change. After being exposed to the virus for the first time, symptoms of a cold sore may not appear for up to 20 days. The blisters can take two to three weeks to fully heal, and the sores can persist for many days. Recurrences frequently occur at the same location every time and are typically less severe than the initial epidemic.
During a first-time outbreak, you might also encounter:
- Sore throat
- Painful gums
- Lymph node swelling
- Painful muscles
Cold sores are common in children under the age of five, and canker sores are sometimes mistaken for them. Canker sores are not caused by the herpes simplex virus and only affect the mucosal membrane.
Usually, cold sores disappear on their own. Consult a doctor if:
- Your immune system is compromised
- Cold sores don’t disappear in two weeks.
- Symptoms have worsen
- Recurrent cold sores
- Eye irritation
Certain types of the herpes simplex virus are responsible for causing cold sores (HSV). Typically, HSV-1 causes cold sores. Usually, HSV-2 is the cause of genital herpes. Either form can spread through close contact, such as kissing or oral sex, to the face or genitalia. Shared towels, razors, and dining utensils could all spread HSV-1.
Due to the virus’s ease of transmission through contact with bodily fluids that are infected, cold sores are most contagious when they are weeping blisters. Even if you don’t have blisters, you can still spread the virus. The virus that causes cold sores can infect many people without manifesting signs or symptoms.
After a herpes infection episode, the virus remains dormant in your skin’s nerve cells and may reappear as a cold sore in the same location as previously. Recurrence could be brought on by:
- Fever or viral infection
- Stress or fatigue
- Sunlight and wind exposure
- Weakened immune system
- Skin injury
- Changes in hormones, such as those brought on by menstruation
Cold sore is a possibility for almost everyone. Even if they have never experienced symptoms, the majority of adults carry the virus that causes cold sores.
If your immune system has been compromised by diseases or treatments like those listed below, you are most at risk of complications from the virus.
- Medication to avoid organ transplant rejection
- Atopic dermatitis