Cold sores — also called fever blisters — are a common viral infection. They are tiny, fluid-filled blisters on and around your lips. These blisters. Besides being itchy and painful, cold sores make you feel self-conscious. This slideshow illustrates how to prevent and treat cold sores caused by the herpes. Despite the name, when you get painful blisters called cold sores, don't blame your cold. Cold sores are caused by a virus, but not the kind that.
Although a person who has HSV-1 doesn't always have sores, the virus stays in the body and there's no permanent cure. When someone gets infected with HSV-1, the virus makes its way through the skin and into a group of nerve cells called a ganglion pronounced: The virus moves in here, takes a long snooze, and every now and then decides to wake up and cause a cold sore.
But not everyone who gets the herpes simplex virus develops cold sores. In some people, the virus stays dormant asleep permanently. What causes the virus to "wake up" or reactivate? No one knows for sure. A person doesn't need to have a cold to get a cold sore. In a lot of people, the cause is unpredictable. Cold sores are really contagious.
If you have a cold sore, it's very easy to infect another person with HSV Although the virus is most contagious when a sore is present, it can still be passed on even if you can't see a sore. In addition, if you or your partner gets cold sores on the mouth, the herpes simplex virus-1 can be transmitted during oral sex and cause herpes in the genital area.
So it's best to not mess with a cold sore — don't pick, pinch, or squeeze it. Actually, it's a good idea to not even touch active cold sores. If you do touch an active cold sore, don't touch other parts of your body. Wash your hands as soon as possible. If HSV-1 gets into the eyes, it can cause a lot of damage.
In fact, if you have a cold sore or you're around someone with a cold sore, try to wash your hands often. For people with any of these conditions, an infection triggered by a cold sore can even be life threatening. If you have frequent recurrent infections, you may develop cold sores in the same place every time.
They may grow in size and cause irritation and pain. Initially, they may ooze before crusting or scabbing over within 48 hours of the initial tingling sensation. If the cold sores are very troublesome, it's possible to suppress them by taking an antiviral tablet called acyclovir regularly, every day for a few months.
This is usually only recommended if cold sores are causing a lot of problems, and they may come back when treatment is stopped. Most cold sores disappear within 7 to 10 days without treatment and usually heal without scarring. The virus passes through the skin and travels up the nerves, where it lies inactive dormant until it's triggered at a later date.
This can happen after having oral sex with a man or woman who has genital herpes , which is usually caused by HSV Cold sores usually clear up without treatment within 7 to 10 days. Antiviral tablets or cream can be used to ease your symptoms and speed up the healing time. They're only effective if you apply them as soon as the first signs of a cold sore appear, when the herpes simplex virus is spreading and replicating.
You'll need to apply the cream up to five times a day for four to five days. They don't get rid of the herpes simplex virus or prevent future outbreaks of cold sores occurring. Antiviral tablets are generally more effective than creams at treating cold sores, but are usually only prescribed for more severe cases. Cold sore patches that contain a special gel called hydrocolloid are also available. They're an effective treatment for skin wounds and are placed over the cold sore to hide the sore area while it heals.
Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable treatment for you. Visit your GP if you're at risk. The type of treatment recommended will depend on the severity of your cold sore symptoms and the complication that's causing problems.
They'll be able to suggest treatments to help ease your symptoms. Brushing your teeth may also be painful because of the swelling of your gums.
Your GP may suggest using an antiseptic mouthwash. This helps prevent secondary infections and will also control a build-up of plaque if you can't brush your teeth effectively. As with the treatment of cold sores, any pain or fever can be treated using ibuprofen or paracetamol. In rare cases of gingivostomatitis, it's possible for your lips to become stuck together in places. Using a lip barrier cream available from your local pharmacist will help prevent this. If you or your child has gingivostomatitis, it's important to drink plenty of fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated.
Most cases of gingivostomatitis get better in 7 to 14 days, although it may take up to three weeks for the sores to heal completely. If you or your child still has symptoms of gingivostomatitis after two weeks or the infection is severe, go back to your GP, who may refer you for specialist treatment. Specialist referral may also be needed for gingivostomatitis if you're pregnant or have a weakened immune system. Visit your GP if you have a newborn baby who develops gingivostomatitis, as they may also need to be referred for specialist treatment.
Home Illnesses and conditions Mouth Cold sore. Cold sore See all parts of this guide Hide guide parts About cold sores Symptoms of cold sores Causes of cold sores Treating cold sores.
About cold sores Cold sores are small blisters that develop on the lips or around the mouth. When to visit your GP If you've had outbreaks of cold sores before, it's likely that you'll know what they are if they return. What causes cold sores? The strain of herpes simplex virus usually responsible for cold sores is known as HSV Treating cold sores Cold sores usually clear up by themselves without treatment within 7 to 10 days.
Antiviral tablets may be prescribed for severe cases. Complications of cold sores Cold sores are usually mild, but may cause complications in rare cases. Examples of when this can occur include: Preventing infection It's not possible to prevent infection with the herpes simplex virus or prevent outbreaks of cold sores, but you can take steps to minimise the spread of infection.
You can help minimise the risk of the cold sore virus spreading and cold sores recurring by following the advice below: Symptoms of cold sores You won't usually have any symptoms when you first become infected with the herpes simplex virus the primary infection.
An outbreak of cold sores may occur some time later and keep coming back recurrent infection. However, if the primary infection does cause symptoms, they can be quite severe. Herpes simplex virus primary infection In children Symptoms of the primary infection are most likely to develop in children younger than five years old.
In adults Primary herpes simplex viruses are rare in adults, but the symptoms are similar to those experienced by children. Causes of cold sores Cold sores are usually caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 HSV Cold sore triggers Factors thought to trigger outbreaks of cold sores include: Herpes simplex virus type 2 Occasionally, cold sores can be caused by the herpes simplex virus type 2 HSV In genital herpes, painful blisters develop on your genitals and the surrounding area.
Everything you need to know about cold sores
Cold sores are common and usually clear up on their own within 10 days. But there are things you can do to help ease the pain. Dealing with cold sores may seem overwhelming, but you don't have to go it alone. Fight back against cold sores with tips & solutions from Abreva®. Cold sores are blisters around the mouth and nose, caused by the herpes simplex virus.