What are cold sores?
Cold sores, also called herpes (short for herpes simplex labialis) or fever blisters, are caused by an exposure to the Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (HSV-1). Cold sores are small groups of fluid-filled blisters on the lips or around the mouth. At onset, a person may feel a tingling sensation or stinging pain before the blister forms. Untreated, the cold sore will last several days to up to two weeks.
How did I get infected?
There are multiple ways to get infected with HSV-1. The most common ways of getting infected is by kissing someone that has the virus, sharing infected personal items, or contacting an infected person skin-to-skin. The virus enters the body through a break in the skin around or inside the mouth.
Are cold sores contagious?
Yes, it is. A person is contagious during all stages of the cold sore and even when no symptoms are visible. A person is still contagious after the cold sore has scabbed over. It is most contagious after the cold sore breaks open and weeps. When a cold sore outbreak occurs, it is important to avoid person to person contact and sharing items like eating utensils, drinking glasses, lipstick, lip balm, or razors with other people.
How long do cold sores last?
After contracting the virus, a cold sore usually appears within a few days. Over the next 1-2 weeks, the cold sore will progress through various development stages before healing on their own.
Is there a cure for cold sores?
Unfortunately no. Once you have the cold sore virus, it stays in your body.
What can I do when I get a cold sore?
Applying an antiviral cream on the cold sore can help speed up the healing process and reduce some of the symptoms. You can find some products on this page.
Alternatively, you can try some home remedies like applying a cold damp compress on the cold sore or applying lip balm or cream on the cold sore to keep moisture in.
- WebMD – Understanding Cold Sores Basics
- Mayo Clinic – Cold Sore Symptoms and causes
- Johns Hopkins Medicine – Cold Sores
- Wikipedia – Herpes simplex
Now that you’ve learned about cold sores, click here to see some products that can help you feel better when you have a cold sore outbreak and shorten the duration of the outbreak.