A Cold Sore Primer

Cold sores are a viral infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). These extremely painful blisters usually appear on the lips, tongue, palate, roof of the mouth, eyelids, or cheeks and can last from one to two weeks. It is believed that cold sores are triggered by stress and other conditions which can increase the vulnerability of the body to viral infections. The herpes virus can be spread when an open sore breaks out on the skin.

Can babies get cold sores? Causes, treatment, and risks

Most coldsores heal themselves after a few days without any outbreaks, but some people are plagued with recurring outbreaks. Unfortunately, not everyone who has an outbreak recognizes the symptoms or how to deal with them effectively. If you think you have an outbreak, you need to be able to recognize the symptoms so you can get medical attention fast. It is important to know the signs so you can take care of your breakout as soon as possible to avoid spreading the virus to other parts of your body.

Genital herpes is more common than you think. There is an average of two to three new cases of genital herpes each day in the United States, according to estimates. Some researchers believe that up to 80% of people with genital herpes don’t know they have it. In fact, many people develop cold sores without ever experiencing any physical symptoms, only to find out later that they have it when an outbreak does occur.

Most cold sore outbreaks last between two days and a few weeks. They may continue to reoccur, or may clear up and disappear for long periods before resurfacing. A cold sore will usually cause a burning, itching sensation along with the formation of blisters. Blisters can be pink, white, or red; they may appear as individual lesions, or groupings of lesions. Most cold sore outbreaks last between two days and a few weeks.

The five stages of a cold sore are: initial onset, inflammation, initial sore, development, and healing. An outbreak usually lasts between two and five days, and can sometimes last for several weeks. Cold sores are usually preceded by fever, pain or swelling, and scabbing, which usually occurs around day one. During the initial stage, the tingling stage, there is no pain, and the virus cannot be contracted by you; the virus is inactive at this time.

When a cold sore outbreak does flare up, you will typically experience at least four localized blisters. These blisters may be red, pink, or inflamed. The first stage of a cold sore lasts from days to weeks, and is often called the incubation period. The second stage, called the acute stage, includes a scab forming around the cold sore and additional blistering. At this point, scabs begin to form around the edges of the blisters, while new blisters grow in the center of the cold sore.