What is a cold sore?
Cold sores, also known as “cold sores,” are small, painful blisters that appear in the mouth, although they can also appear on other parts of the face, such as around the mouth and nose. Cold sores (or fever blisters) are very common. They usually go away on their own within one to two weeks.
What are the signs and symptoms of cold sores?
Cold sores form blisters on the lips, around the mouth, and sometimes inside the mouth. The blisters turn into ulcers, which make eating painful. They are filled with a liquid that forms a crust over, before drying up and disappearing.
Sometimes the virus causes red and swollen gums, fever, muscle aches, a general ill feeling, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
After a person contracts Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), this virus can remain dormant in their body without causing any symptoms. But you can wake up and wake up later to things like the following:
- other infections
- environmental cold
- the menstruation
- stress , like before a big test at school
When the virus is reactivated, it can cause tingling or numbness around the mouth before the blisters appear.
What Causes Cold Sores?
Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) is the cause of cold sores. It differs from the other Herpes simplex virus, type 2 (HSV-2). HSV-2 causes lesions in the genital area called genital herpes. But, although HSV-1 usually causes blisters around the mouth and HSV-2 causes sores or blisters on the genitals, both viruses can affect any of these parts of the body.
How do people get cold sores?
People can get HSV-1 by kissing or touching someone who has a cold sore, or by sharing eating utensils, towels, or other objects with an infected person. Many people are infected with HSV-1 in the preschool years.
How is a cold sore treated?
Cold sores usually go away on their own within one to two weeks. There are no drugs that will make the virus disappear. But there are some treatments that help ulcers hurt less and don’t last as long:
- Cold compresses can help ease discomfort.
- There are prescription and over-the-counter medications that are sometimes recommended by doctors.
- Cold drinks and cold foods can help reduce discomfort.
- Taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen can relieve pain. Do not take aspirin , or any other medicine that contains aspirin or other salicylate, because it has been linked to an unusual but serious illness called Reye’s syndrome.
When should I call the doctor?
If you have a cold sore, it’s important to see your doctor if the following happen to you:
- have another medical condition that has weakened your immune system
- ulcers do not heal on their own within two weeks
- you get cold sores often
- have signs of a bacterial infection, such as fever, pus, or spreading redness
Can cold sores be prevented?
The virus that causes cold sores is very contagious. To prevent spreading it to other people:
- Keep your glasses and other eating and drinking utensils, as well as your towels, washcloths, and sponges, separate from those of the rest of your family, and wash them thoroughly after use.
- Don’t kiss others until your cold sore is cured.
- Wash your hands well often, especially after touching your cold sore.
Avoid, above all, touching your eyes. If the HSV-1 virus gets into your eyes, it could cause serious injury.