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Herpes Cold Sores

Herpes, Cold Sores

Cold sores, often called fever blisters, are sores around the lip and mouth. They are commonly accompanied by swollen and reddened skin around the blister site, which may or may not be painful. If a cold sore breaks open, a clear liquid will seep out that will be followed by the sore scabbing over in a few days. Someone can have a cold sore for 3 days or up to 2 weeks. While they are sometimes called canker sores, cold sores are not the same thing and caused by different situations.

Causes of Cold Sores

Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) which can either be HSV-1 or HSV-2. Both types of the herpes simplex virus cause blisters or cold sores around the mouth and can be located on the genitals as well. The virus enters the body through the mouth or a break in the skin where it spreads. HSV can also be spread by sharing saliva, utensils, or razors. Cold sores are more common in the mouth and genital areas but can be seen in other areas of the body as well.

Symptoms of Cold Sores

The first symptoms usually experienced by someone with a cold sore is redness and pain along with visible sores on the mouth and lips. Other symptoms that closely follow this are a fever and swollen glands in the neck, along with a sore throat. Blisters can appear quickly after the redness and swelling or pain begin. They will most likely break open, letting out a clear fluid within a couple days, followed by a scab forming. Once they scab over, healing has already begun which can take about 2 weeks. Some people may experience few symptoms while others feel considerable pain.

Diagnosis and Treatment

A physical examination is usually the first and only diagnosis procedure done for cold sores, followed by telling your doctor about the blisters you see, how much they hurt, and where they are located. You an call your doctor and based on what you see or experience, you may not need further treatment. Most of them heal on their own so treatment is usually doing things to relieve discomfort such as taking over-the-counter pain relief medications. It is also possible to treat a cold sore with cream and topical ointments which can increase the healing time. The best way to prevent a cold sore is by avoiding contact with someone that has cold sores.
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