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Home » Cold Sore

Get Relief from Cold Sores: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment Options.













What is a Cold Sore?

The formation of a cold sore begins with a tingling or burning sensation on the lips or in the mouth. This is followed by the appearance of small, fluid-filled blisters that form on or around the mouth. The blisters then burst, leaving a sore that can be painful and uncomfortable. Cold sores have several stages, starting with the early stage, which is characterized by the tingling and burning sensation, followed by the appearance of the blisters, and then the sore stage. The sore stage is when the blisters burst and the sore is open. Cold sores typically take between 7 and 14 days to heal completely. Early-stage identification of a cold sore is crucial to getting the best treatment. If you notice any tingling, burning, or itching sensations on or around your lips, this could be a sign that a cold sore is forming, and you should start treatment as soon as possible. This page will go over how to identify a cold sore in its early cold sore stages, in-depth information about what is a cold sore, what causes a cold sore, and cold sore formation.
cold sore infection

Symptoms of Cold Sore

First, we need to know what is a cold sore. A cold sore, also known as a fever blister, is a small, painful blister that typically appears on or around the lips. They are brought about by herpes simplex infection (HSV-1). The symptoms of a cold sore typically include:
  1. Tingling, itching, or burning sensations on or around the lips: This is often the first sign that a cold sore is forming and is known as the prodrome stage.
  2. Small red bumps: These will develop into fluid-filled blisters.

What Triggers a Cold Sore?

Cold sore triggers can include stress, fatigue, sun exposure, and hormonal changes. The virus can also be reactivated by certain foods and beverages, such as chocolate and caffeine. When the virus is reactivated, it travels to the surface of the skin and begins to reproduce, causing a cold sore to form. This process typically takes 1-2 days. The following are the stages of a cold sore:
  1. The beginning stage of a cold sore, or early stage, is known as the prodrome. During this stage, a person may experience tingling, itching, or burning sensations on or around the lips.
  2. The next stage is the outbreak stage, where small red bumps appear and develop into fluid-filled blisters.
  3. The third stage is the crusting stage, where the blisters will dry out, crust over, and scab.
It is important to note that a cold sore is not a symptom of COVID-19; they are both different illnesses caused by different viruses.
Stages of a cold sore

What Causes Cold Sore?

Once the virus enters the body, it remains dormant (inactive) in nerve cells. Several factors can cause the virus to be reactivated, including:

  • Stress: Stress can weaken the immune system, making it more vulnerable to outbreaks.
  • Sun exposure: Exposure to the sun can cause a cold sore outbreak, especially if the skin is already damaged or sunburned.
  • Hormonal changes: Some people may experience cold sore outbreaks during certain times of the month, such as menstruation, due to hormonal changes in the body.

It’s important to note that cold sores can vary from person to person, and it’s not always possible to identify the specific cause of a cold sore outbreak. Some people may be more susceptible to outbreaks due to genetics or an underlying medical condition.

How to Diagnose Cold Sore?

The diagnosis of cold sores typically begins with a physical examination. A dermatologist will examine the affected area and look for the characteristic symptoms of cold sores, such as small red bumps, fluid-filled blisters, crusting, and scabbing. The dermatologist may also ask about the patient’s medical history, including past outbreaks and any known triggers, like sun exposure or stress. If you need and have any problem you can take an online dermatologist consultation.

If there is any doubt about the diagnosis, a swab of the blister fluid can be taken and tested for herpes simplex virus confirmation. It’s worth noting that other conditions such as canker sores and impetigo can also present with similar symptoms.

Cold Sore Treatment

Cold sores can be a nuisance and can make eating, drinking, and talking difficult. Fortunately, there are both medical treatments and home care remedies available for cold sore treatment that help alleviate the symptoms of cold sores and speed up the healing process. Medical Treatment: When it comes to medical treatment, prescription medications are often used to help shorten the duration of a cold-sore outbreak and reduce the severity of symptoms. Antiviral medications, such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir, are used for cold sores treatments and prescribed by doctors to treat cold sores. These medications work by preventing the virus from reproducing and can help reduce the length of the outbreak by a couple of days. Home Remedies for Cold Sores: In addition to medical treatments, several cold sore home treatments can help alleviate the symptoms of cold sores. Here are a few things you can try at home:
  • Apply a lip balm or cream that contains sunscreen to protect your lips from the sun, which can trigger cold sore outbreaks.
  • Apply a cream or ointment that contains a local anesthetic to help numb the area and reduce pain.
  • Apply a cream or ointment that contains the amino acid lysine, which can help reduce the frequency and duration of cold sore outbreaks.
Ongo care doctor wearing stethoscope pointing left hand

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Cold Sore Complications

Cold sores (fever blisters) are usually mild and self-limiting conditions, but in some cases, they can lead to complications.
  1. Eye infection: The herpes simplex virus can spread to the eyes and cause eye infections such as keratitis, which can lead to scarring of the cornea and vision loss.
  2. Encephalitis: In rare cases, the herpes simplex virus can spread to the brain and cause encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain. This can lead to seizures, confusion, and even death.

Cold Sore Prevention

Preventing and Treating Oral Herpes Cold Sore: A Guide to Cold Sores in the Mouth Cold sores are characterized by small, fluid-filled blisters that appear on or around the lips, mouth, or face. These blisters can be painful and unsightly and can make eating, drinking, and speaking difficult. The good news is that there are several steps you can take to prevent cold sores from developing, as well as ways to manage them once they appear. You can help cold sores prevention (fever blister) outbreaks by taking the following steps:
  1. Practice good hygiene: It’s important to keep your hands clean and avoid touching your face, particularly around the mouth and nose, as the virus can be spread through contact with infected fluids.
  2. Avoid sharing personal items: Avoid sharing personal items such as towels, lip balm, and lipstick, as the virus can be spread through contact with these items.
  3. Use a lip balm with sunscreen: Using a lip balm or lip cream that contains sunscreen can help protect your lips from the sun, which can trigger cold sore outbreaks.
So, these are the steps helpful for preventing cold sores.
Cold sore Prevention steps

When Should I Call the Doctor?

Although cold sores are usually mild and self-limiting conditions, there are certain situations in which it is important to see a doctor.
  1. Eye irritation: If you experience eye irritation, redness, or discharge in or around your eye, it’s important to see a doctor right away. Cold sores can spread to the eyes and cause eye infections such as keratitis, which can lead to scarring of the cornea and vision loss.
  2. Weakened immune system: If you have a weakened immune system, you may be at a higher risk of developing complications from cold sores. People with HIV/AIDS, cancer, or those taking immunosuppressive drugs should see a doctor if they develop a cold sore.
  3. Swollen cold sore: If your cold sore is swollen, extremely painful, or infected, you should see a doctor. A swollen cold sore could be a sign of a secondary infection, which will require antibiotic treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are cold sores contagious?
Yes, cold sores are highly contagious and can be spread through direct contact with the blisters as well as through contact with the fluids from the blisters. The virus can also be spread through contact with a person’s skin, even if no blisters are present.
How Long Does a Cold Sore Last?
Cold sores usually last between 7 and 10 days, but the healing process can take up to 14 days. The area may be sore and tender during this time.
What is the outcome for someone who has cold sores?
Cold sores are usually mild and self-limiting conditions, but in some cases, they can lead to complications such as eye infections, encephalitis, neonatal herpes, and other skin infections.
Is a cold sore a form of sexually transmitted disease?
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1), which is different from the herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) which causes genital herpes, which is a sexually transmitted disease. However, cold sores can be spread through oral sex and kissing.
Should I pop a cold sore?
It is not recommended to pop a cold sore, as it can lead to further infection and make the healing process take longer. It’s better to leave it alone and let it heal on its own.
Why get professional advice on cold sores?
It’s important to get professional advice on cold sores because they can be a symptom of other conditions, and it’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare provider if you have any concerns or questions. They can properly diagnose your condition and recommend the best course of treatment.
How to get a prescription for cold sores?
If you want a prescription for cold sores, you only need to schedule an appointment with Ongo Care.
How can I prevent a cold sore from coming?
There are a few things you can do to prevent cold sores from coming. Some of these include:
  • Avoiding triggers: Identify and avoid things that trigger your cold sores, such as stress, sun exposure, or cold weather.
  • Using sunscreen: Apply sunscreen to your lips and the area around your mouth to protect them from sun exposure.
  • Keeping your lips moisturized: Dry, cracked lips are more susceptible to cold sores, so keep your lips moisturized to prevent them from cracking.
Contact Ongo Care if you need help with your cold sore.