Cold sores are small, painful blisters that usually form on or around the lips. These small fluid-filled blisters are sometimes called fever blisters or oral herpes. (1)
Cold sores are highly contagious and can be spread through saliva or skin contact. This is a common condition, some people have the first outbreak during childhood. (2)
There is no cure for cold sores, but the good news is that many cold sores are rare and usually go away on their own in a week or two. For many people, the common cold does not cause complications and does not leave scars. (1)
The common cold will go away on its own, but medications and home remedies can relieve the pain and promote rapid recovery. (3)
How the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) Causes Cold Sores
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). (1)
There are two types of HSV. Most cold sores are caused by type 1 (HSV-1). Type 2 (HSV-2) usually affects the genital area, although it can also cause cold sores around the mouth. (2)
This can happen after oral sex with someone who has genetic herpes, or if you kiss someone who has HSV-2 cold sores around their mouth.
More than 90% of adults carry the virus, which causes colds, and these people often become infected after kissing someone infected with the virus as a child. (1)
Cold sores can be found on or around the lips, but some people also have sores on the cheeks, or around the nose and eyes. (1)
Once you become infected with HSV-1, the virus travels to your nerves and stays in your body for life. The virus can remain inactive or inactive, so some people infected with HSV-1 never have a cold. In fact, some people don’t even know they have the virus because they never have symptoms. (4)
Unfortunately, you can still transmit the virus to others even if you have no symptoms of a cold. (5)
When the virus wakes up in the body, colds cause sores.
Some factors can trigger this awareness and cause it to spread. (6)
These stimuli include:
Viral infection or fever
Sun and wind exposure
Changes in the immune system
Sometimes, cold sores are unknowingly triggered.
Learn more about the causes of cold sores
Symptoms of a Cold Sore and How They’re Diagnosed
Dr. Arthur noted that the symptoms of a cold sore vary, with the first exposure or early outbreak usually being the most severe. (4)
Symptoms of a cold for the first time may include: (4)
Painful blisters on the lips, cheeks, mouth, nose, or throat (which eventually pop and itch)
Mouth and throat pain
Swelling in the neck
Fever and body aches
You will still have painful blisters with recurrent outbreaks, but more severe symptoms such as body aches and fever are less likely to return.
It is important to note that cold sores are usually outside the mouth, but these sores can occur inside your mouth during your first outbreak. This is known as acute herpetic gangliostomatitis. (4)
Because of this, you may initially make the mistake of making a cold sore for the first time. Cancer sores are ulcers that form on the mucous membranes inside the mouth or on the tongue. (7)
For the first time in the mouth, cold sores can spread to the tongue or inner cheek. And this initial epidemic usually lasts 10 to 14 days. Later outbreaks may last longer, or they may heal sooner, as early as five days. (4)
Cold sores can develop at any time when you have had HSV before. You may also notice early signs of an eruption a day or two before the blisters appear.
Early symptoms of the common cold may include: (4)
The blisters appear within 24 to 48 hours of the first sign. After a day or two, the blisters will rupture and become contaminated with pus. This is followed by an itch on the blister. (4)
A cold sore at home is treatable, so most people can’t see a doctor. However, under certain conditions, severe colds may require a visit to your family doctor or dermatologist. (3)
Cold sores can be painful, and if the pain is severe, oral pain cannot be helped more than over the counter. Your doctor may prescribe medication to prevent rapid efficacy and inflammation.
Doctors can usually diagnose a cold sore by looking at the wound. But your doctor can take fluid samples from the common cold to find out if you have HSV. (3)
Although in most cases, the test is not required.
You should also see a doctor if you have itching in the cold. This includes colds that spread to different parts of your body, such as your eyes or fingers. In addition, see a doctor if you have a weakened immune system. (2)
“People with immune systems [whose immune system is weakened by HIV or medications after organ transplants] can spread the disease more often and have more cases of cold sores,” says Arthur. Are. ”
If your body is unable to fight the virus, it can spread to your spinal cord and brain. (1)
Cold Sore vs. Canker Sore: What’s the Difference?
Cold sores are not the same as canker sores. Canker sores are painful red or white sores that form inside the mouth. (7)
Canker sores typically form on the gums, inside the lips or cheek, or on the tongue. Unlike cold sores, canker sores don’t form blisters or scabs.
Canker sores aren’t caused by herpes and they aren’t contagious. So while it is possible to spread a cold sore to someone through kissing or sharing eating utensils, this isn’t the case with a canker sore. (7)
The cause of a canker sore is unknown, but certain factors may increase the risk of one. This includes a family history of canker sores, injury to the mouth, a weak immune system, (7)
Since people who are newly infected with the HSV-1 can get cold sores in their mouth, see a doctor if you can’t tell whether a sore or blister-like lesion is a canker sore or a cold sore. (4)