Fever blisters, also referred to as cold sores, occur as a small cluster of blisters around the mouth and possibly nose. They are caused by the herpes simplex virus. Fever blisters often break open, leaking a clear fluid. They will scab over and heal on their own within a few days to two weeks. There are other options for those who would like to assist the healing process.
Fever Blister Symptoms
Before a fever blister appears, the individual may feel a tingling on or around her lips and a hard spot forming where the fever blister will appear. She may also have a fever, a sore throat or swollen glands in the neck or other parts of the body. Young children may drool when a fever blister is developing. Upon experiencing these symptoms, the individual will know to prepare to treat a fever blister.
When a fever blister is developing, or just after it has developed, an antiviral medication can be used to shorten the duration. Once the fever blister appears and has been present for a few days, topical creams such as topical lidocaine or benzyl alcohol (Zilactin) can be used to shorten the duration of the fever blister and ease any painful symptoms.
Pain relievers such as aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin), can relieve pain associated with cold sores. Avoid giving children aspirin when they have a fever--it is believed to cause Reye's Syndrome, a rare but possibly fatal disorder. Hot or cold packs can also relieve any pain.
Because fever blisters are caused by a virus that stays in the body, once the individual has contracted it, fever blisters may reoccur at any time. At this point, one of the best things an individual can do is prevent further outbreaks. Wash the hands frequently to avoid spreading fever blisters to other parts of the body. Be cautious of touching other parts of the body during an outbreak, especially the eyes and genitals.
Avoid stress and triggers that cause a fever blister outbreak. Such triggers can include sun exposure, lack of sleep, poor diet and becoming ill. Always use sunscreen on skin and lips.
If an individual has frequent outbreaks, a physician may prescribe regular use of an antiviral to prevent fever blisters.
During a fever blister outbreak, it is essential the individual wash the hands regularly when interacting with others. It is also imperative that personal items, like toothbrushes, wash clothes, makeup and eating utensils, not be shared. Avoid kissing and other skin-on-skin contact until the fever blister has completely healed.