Cold sores, which are commonly referred to as fever blisters. Consist of small blisters typically around the mouth and on the lip. They are often accompanied by red, swollen and sore skin in the area surrounding the skin blisters. Cold sores can also break open which cause a clear liquid to leak out followed by the sore scabbing over a few days later. The average time for someone to have cold sores is 3 days to 2 weeks. Cold sores are often confused with canker sores; they may look similar but are quite different, including their causes and treatments.
Causes of Cold Sores
All cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) and are either HSV-1 or HSV-2. Each of these types of virus exist around the mouth and/or on the genital areas. This virus will enter the body from a break in the skin or inside the mouth. It can be spread from human contact or sharing utensils, razors, or saliva. Cold sores are much more common in the mouth and genital areas but can be spread to other areas of the body as well.
Symptoms of Cold Sores
The first symptoms someone will experience when they have a cold sore is pain and redness around their mouth and lips. This is typically followed by a fever, swollen glands in the neck, and sore throat. The blisters will appear fairly quickly along with redness and swelling of that facial region. The blisters are going to break open and leak the clear fluid within a couple days and then scab over where they will begin the healing process for up to 2 weeks. Some people can experience almost no symptoms while other people get extreme pain along with the cold sores.
Diagnosis and Treatment
The main diagnosis for cold sores is telling your doctor about your signs and symptoms and having him or her examine your blisters or the areas where cold sores would frequent. Testing is not typically done. Most cold sores heal on their own and there isn’t much you need to do. Occasionally, you may need over-the-counter pain medications if they are causing discomfort. Some fo the treatments to get rid of them faster are ointments and creams applied to the cold sores. This may help them heal at a faster rate.
Preventing Cold Sores
There are some actions you can take in order to prevent cold sores. You should start by avoiding contact with anyone who has cold sores, which you should be able to see on their face, mouth or lips. At all times, you should avoid sharing drinking cups or utensils with someone just in case they have this or other types of viruses. Avoid things that might raise your risk for getting a cold sore such as the cold, flu, or high amounts of stress.