Search:
 
 
   
Expand Window Full Screen
Cold Sore

Definition

Cold sores or fever blisters are sores or blisters that appear on your lip or other facial areas like nostrils or chin or rarely inside your mouth, either your gums or hard palate. Cold sores are contagious and can be transmitted by direct contact or by sharing personal items like towels, razors, lipstick, chapstick etc. Once you have developed an episode of cold sore, the virus may remain inactive in the nerve cells of your skin. Recurrent infection can occur on or near the original spot of the sore.

Return to top Return to top

Causes

  • Herpes simplex virus type 1
  • Herpes simplex virus type 2
  • Fever, menstruation, stress and exposure to the sun may provoke a recurring infection

Return to top Return to top

Symptoms

  • Itching, increased sensitivity, mild pain or a tingling sensation on the facial area before the sore actually appears.
  • Small, red, painful, blisters filled with straw colored fluid or papules ( raised area of skin) appear
  • The blisters may ooze or rupture, forming a yellow crust on the sore.
  • The crust may finally slough off, revealing the underlying pink skin which heals rapidly without leaving behind a scar.
  • These symptoms usually last for 7-10 days

Return to top Return to top

Implications

Cold sores are highly contagious and can be transmitted through direct person-to-person contact. Herpes simplex virus can be transmitted even in the absence of a visible blister or sore. However, the most infective period is when the sores are oozing and appear red and painful. Corneal infection caused by herpes simplex virus can lead to blindness.

Return to top Return to top

What You Can Do

  • Apply cold or warm compresses to the blisters to relieve the pain.

  • Do not pick or pinch on the blister.

  • Use over-the-counter (OTC) creams to provide some comfort.

  • Take OTC pain reliever like aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).

  • Avoid direct skin contact with people who have cold sores

  • Avoid sharing items personal items like towels, razors, spoons, glasses until active leisions are present.

  • Use sunblock both during summer and winter to avoid triggering a cold sore. Apply sunblock especially to your face and lips if you will be out in the sun for a long time.

  • Practice good personal hygiene especially when you have a cold sore.

  • Do not touch other parts of your bogy like your eyes or genitals which may be susceptible to infection by the virus.

Return to top Return to top

Cold Sore