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Cold Sores: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, And Prevention

What are Cold Sores?

Sometimes referred as fever blisters, cold sores are groups of small, often red and swollen blisters on the lips and around the mouth.

These blisters may open, leak a clear fluid and scab over after a few days, with a healing period that lasts from several days to two weeks.

What causes Cold Sores?

Cold sores are caused by a type of herpes simplex virus called HSV-1 or herpes labialis which causes sores around the mouth.

A break in the skin around or inside the mouth usually creates an opportunity for the herpes simplex virus to enter the body.

Kissing an infected person, touching a cold sore or an infected fluid or a person’s saliva can lead to the spread of the infection.

What are the symptoms of Cold Sores?

  • Pain around the mouth and lips
  • A sore throat
  • Swollen glands in the neck and other parts of the body
  • Drooling for children

How to treat Cold Sores?

The sores can also be diagnosed without undergoing tests. The doctor will usually ask if you had recent contact with the virus and examine you.

Cold sores usually heal on their own within a few days to two weeks. However, if they cause discomfort or embarrassment, skin creams, ointments and pills may be used to rid of the sores by one to two days faster and ease painful blisters and discomfort.

When you are suffering from cold sores, keep the surrounding area of the sores tidy through proper washing with antiseptic soap. Antiseptic soap has ingredients helpful in minimizing the possibility of inflammation.

Also, consider using over-the-counter medicines to shield the cold sore from irritants or use a cold compress to control the pain.

How to prevent Cold Sores?

Unfortunately, the herpes simplex virus permanently stays in your body, but there are prevention tips you can follow to avoid getting the herpes simplex virus.

  • Do not come in contact with infected body fluids.
  • Do not share eating utensils, drinking cups, and other items used by a person with a cold sore.

Also, if you have been infected by the virus, you can reduce the number of outbreaks by:

  • Avoiding stress and colds or flu which can trigger cold sores.
  • Use lip balm and sunscreen as too much sunlight causes cold sores to flare.
  • Wash your hands often, and do not touch the cold sore.
  • Consult with your doctor if cold sores appear often. Treatments may help reduce the prevalence of the sores.

Disclaimer: The oral health information published on this web page is solely intended for educational purposes. Hawaii Family Dental strongly recommends to always consult licensed dentists or other qualified health care professionals for any questions concerning your oral health.


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