Cold sores are little blisters that may appear around the edge of your lip. These are also known as fever blisters. They can be painful and annoying at times. Cold sores are caused by the Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) 1. Type 1 of the virus is in the same family as the one that causes genital herpes 1. However, genital herpes is caused by Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) 1. Cold sores are very contagious and can be passed from one person to another.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Cold sores normally last roughly 6 to 12 days.
There are fives stages that a cold sore goes through. They are the tingling stage, the blister stage, the weeping stage, the scabbing stage and the healing stage.
The tingling stage is also known as the prodrome stage. **This stage can last 1 to 2 days.
** During this stage, an individual can feel a tingling sensation where the cold sore is beginning to form. This spot may turn red and may swell.
The blistering stage is when a fluid-filled blister will appear.
It may be a large blister or it may form into clusters. This stage normally lasts about 2 days.
**The weeping stage is also known as the ulcer stage.
** This stage is the most contagious because the blister will rupture and the liquid inside will ooze out. This stage should last for 1 day.
**For the next 2 to 3 days, the cold sore will be in the scabbing stage.
** The cold sore will dry, scab and then crust. The virus may still be present until the scab falls off.
After the scab falls off, the cold sore will eventually disappear.
It normally does not leave a scar. This is the beginning of the healing stage.
- Cold sores normally last roughly 6 to 12 days.
- For the next 2 to 3 days, the cold sore will be in the scabbing stage.
Fever Blisters on a 2-Year-Old
Currently, there is no cure for the HSV-1. Once an individual contracts it, it will stay in her body.
There is no way to prevent a cold sore outbreak, but there is medication that can affect how long it may last. A physician may prescribe an antiviral medication to take before the blister forms. It should be used as soon as the tingling is noticed. This medication limits the virus’s ability to spread giving the immune system enough time to fight it off.
- Currently, there is no cure for the HSV-1.
- There is no way to prevent a cold sore outbreak, but there is medication that can affect how long it may last.
If a cold sore is too painful, some ice applied to the area may help. There are also some over-the-counter cream medications that could be used. Pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin and ibuprofen can be used to ease the pain.
If the cold sore is on a child, consult with his physician first before giving him any medication. Never try to squeeze a cold sore blister and also do not attempt to peel the scab off before it is ready.
- If a cold sore is too painful, some ice applied to the area may help.
- Never try to squeeze a cold sore blister and also do not attempt to peel the scab off before it is ready.
How to Make a Cold Sore Pop Fast
There are several ways to prevent cold sores from occurring. One way is to wash your hands often, especially after touching or applying cream to a cold sore. Avoid kissing people while you have a cold sore in order to prevent them from getting the virus. Do not share razors or shavers with others.
It is also best not to share towels with others when you have a cold sore. Also, try to stay healthy enough to avoid other viruses like the cold and flu.
- There are several ways to prevent cold sores from occurring.
- It is also best not to share towels with others when you have a cold sore.
When to Seek Help
Immediately call a physician if pus (a yellow fluid filled with bacteria) develops or if you reach a temperature of greater than 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Also call a physician if you have a disease that causes weak immune systems such as HIV or cancer. Be sure to inform your physician if any new sores appear.
Go to the emergency room if you develop a high fever, are unable to swallow or become confused. You may be required to undergo special treatment and/or special tests.
- Immediately call a physician if pus (a yellow fluid filled with bacteria) develops or if you reach a temperature of greater than 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Go to the emergency room if you develop a high fever, are unable to swallow or become confused.
Fever Blisters on a 2-Year-Old
How to Make a Cold Sore Pop Fast
Can Taking Vitamin B12 Shorten Cold Sores?
How to Identify Symptoms of Impetigo
Symptoms of Infantigo
How to Get Rid of Cold Sores With Rubbing Alcohol
Canker Sores on Baby's Tongue
Can Shingles Be on Both Sides of the Body?
The Stages of Shingles Rash
Cold Sore Stages
- Health 911
- Ramchandani M, Kong M, Tronstein E, et al. Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Shedding in Tears and Nasal and Oral Mucosa of Healthy Adults. Sex Transm Dis. 2016;43(12):756-760. doi:10.1097/OLQ.0000000000000522
- Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG). Cold sores: Overview. 2018.
- Montgomery-cranny JA, Wallace A, Rogers HJ, Hughes SC, Hegarty AM, Zaitoun H. Management of recurrent aphthous stomatitis in children. Dent Update. 2015;42(6):564-6, 569-72. doi:10.12968/denu.2015.42.6.564
- Krissel JD, Bhatia A, and Thomas A. Cold sore susceptibility gene-1 genotypes affect the expression of herpes labialis in unrelated human subjects. Hum Genome Var. 2014; 1: 14024. doi:10.1038/hgv.2014.24
- Fatahzadeh M and Schwartz RA. Human herpes simplex virus infections: Epidemiology, pathogenesis, symptomatology, diagnosis, and management. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2007;57(5):737-63. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2007.06.027
- Formica M, Kabbara K, Clark R, Mcalindon T. Can clinical trials requiring frequent participant contact be conducted over the Internet? Results from an online randomized controlled trial evaluating a topical ointment for herpes labialis. J Med Internet Res. 2004;6(1):e6.
- American Academy of Dermatologists. Cold sores: Overview.
- American Academy of Dermatologists. Cold sores: Signs and symptoms.
- American Academy of Dermatologists. Cold sores: Tips for managing.
Alicia Kirkland is a child support specialist with the Department of Social Services. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Morris College and a Master of Arts in human resource management from Webster University.