What are Cold Sores?

Cold sores, also known as fever blisters are tiny groups of blisters that occur on the lip or areas around the mouth. The skin around the blistered gets irritated and become, inflamed and painful. The blisters themselves, could break open and they secrete a clear fluid. After a few days, it starts to scab and after a week or two, they heal.

What causes cold sores?

The HSV-1 and HSV-2 are the two forms of the herpes simplex virus, or HSV. HSV is the cause of cold sores and both forms of this virus causes herpes labialis, sores in the mouth and genital herpes, sores on the genitals.

Herpes simplex virus is introduced into the body through a break in the skin or orally. The virus can be transferred to other individuals when infected fluid goes into their bodies through touch or saliva like when using the same utensils, razors, kissing or touching. These are the common ways parents can infect their own child. The virus can enter through other areas in the body.

What are the symptoms?

Pain around or on your lips is the initial symptom of cold sores. Other common symptoms would be sore throat, inflammation of glands on the neck and sometimes other parts of the body, and fever. In children, drooling is an early sign of cold sores. The pain of cold sores can be intolerable for some people. Once the blisters break open, the healing begins when the clear fluid leaks out and the skin begins to crust on the area of the blister. It will completely heal after 1 or 2 weeks.

In some cases, the virus may be present in the body, but the cold sores don’t break out or symptoms do not appear.

How are cold sores diagnosed?

Testing is not necessary, but doctors usually diagnose cold sores by finding out how you came into contact with the virus and through health assessment.

How are cold sores treated?

Treatment is usually not necessary for cold sores because they clear out after a few days. For some people, the pain can be intolerable and others would rather have them treated immediately because of embarrassment. For treatment, doctors prescribe skin creams, ointments or pills. Treatment can get rid of cold sores, only slighter than waiting for it to clear out on its own, but it can relieve pain and other symptoms.

Herpes simplex virus is not treatable. Once you have contracted the virus, you will have it for life. Treatment can only relive symptoms, lessen the number of cold sores and severity.

How can you prevent cold sores?

There are some preventive measures you can take, against cold sores.

Keep away from infected body fluids and do not kiss anyone infected with cold sores.
Use your own cups, utensils, razors, towels and other toiletries and segregate similar belongings of an infected person.
Once you have been infected with the virus, there is no way to prevent another outbreak, but there is something you could do about the number of cold sores that you have and prevent spreading the virus.
Things like stress, colds and the flu, trigger cold sores, so try to avoid them.
Sunlight also triggers cold sores so always apply lip balm and sun block.
Hand washing is essential; for anyone who has had or has cold sores. Avoid touching your sores, so you do not infect other areas of your body like your eyes and genitalia area, or other people.
If your cold sores occur frequently, you should consult a doctor. You can get some prescription medication to lessen your outbreaks.

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