Cold Sores

Also called: Fever blister, Oral herpes

Cold sores are caused by a contagious virus called herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two types of HSV. Type 1 usually causes oral herpes, or cold sores. Type 1 herpes virus infects more than half of the U.S. population by the time they reach their 20s. Type 2 usually affects the genital area

Some people have no symptoms from the infection. But others develop painful and unsightly cold sores. Cold sores usually occur outside the mouth, on or around the lips. When they are inside the mouth, they are usually on the gums or the roof of the mouth. They are not the same as canker sores, which are not contagious.

There is no cure for cold sores. They normally go away on their own in a few weeks. Antiviral medicines can help them heal faster. They can also help to prevent cold sores in people who often get them. Other medicines can help with the pain and discomfort of the sores. These include ointments that numb the blisters, soften the crusts of the sores, or dry them out. Protecting your lips from the sun with sunblock lip balm can also help.

Symptoms of Cold Sores

The following features are indicative of Cold Sores:
  • tingling
  • itching
  • blisters
  • oozing
  • crusting
  • fever
  • painful eroded gums
  • sore throat
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • swollen lymph nodes
It is possible that Cold Sores shows no physical symptoms and still is present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Cold Sores

The following are the most common causes of Cold Sores:
  • herpes simplex virus infection
  • sharing of eating utensils with infected people
  • sharing of used razors
  • sharing of personnel towels
  • having oral sex

Risk Factors for Cold Sores

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Cold Sores:
  • severe burns
  • eczema
  • cancer chemotherapy
  • anti-rejection drugs for organ transplants

Prevention of Cold Sores

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Cold Sores. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • avoid skin-to-skin contact with others while blisters are present
  • avoid sharing items when blisters are present
  • keep hands clean

Occurrence of Cold Sores

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Cold Sores cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Common between 1 - 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Cold Sores most commonly occurs in the following age group:
  • Aged between 15-60 years

Common Gender

Cold Sores can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Cold Sores

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Cold Sores:
  • Blister sample testing

Doctor for Diagnosis of Cold Sores

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Cold Sores:
  • Infectious disease specialist

Complications of Cold Sores if untreated

Yes, Cold Sores causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Cold Sores is left untreated:
  • eye infection
  • eczema
  • weakened immune systems

Self-care for Cold Sores

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Cold Sores:
  • Apply a cool compress: Help reduce redness, remove crusting and promote healing
  • Use lip balms and cream: Help easing the discomfort of a cold sore

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Cold Sores

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Cold Sores:
  • Consume lysine supplement: Helps in treating cold sore
  • Apply cream combining rhubarb and sage: Helps in treating cold sore
  • Do deep-breathing exercises: Helps treating cold sore
  • Do meditation: Helps in treating cold sore

Patient Support for Treatment of Cold Sores

The following actions may help Cold Sores patients:
  • Communicate with your partner: Talk to your partner about the disease
  • Education: Learn how to live with this disease and reduce the chances of infection
  • Join a support group: Join a support group online to learn about other's experiences

Time for Treatment of Cold Sores

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Cold Sores to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • In 1 - 4 weeks

Is Cold Sores Infectious?

Yes, Cold Sores is known to be infectious. It can spread across people via the following means:
  • by close contact
  • oral sex

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Cold Sores.
Herpes Simplex
Mouth Disorders

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