Cold sores are a common infection caused by a virus called HSV-1. They appear as clusters of fluid-filled blisters. The blisters eventually break, leaving a scab that can take several weeks to heal. They most often appear around the lips and nose. Usually, cold sores will go away on their own. Sometimes spreading or frequent recurrence requires medication to reduce the frequency and severity of herpes outbreaks.
What Are the Symptoms of Cold Sores?
The severity of symptoms will depend on whether or not this is your first outbreak, if the outbreak has spread or if you are immunocompromised. For healthy people, recurrent outbreaks are usually less severe.
Common symptoms of a recurrent outbreak are:
- Tingling or itching at the site where the blisters will appear
- Oozing blisters along the lips
- Scabs covering the areas where the blisters have burst
For an initial outbreak, or if you are immunocompromised, you may also experience fever, swollen lymph nodes, headaches or muscle aches.
What Causes Cold Sores?
The herpes simplex virus causes facial herpes. The virus spreads very easily and you don’t need to have blisters to be contagious. Common activities like sharing forks, straws, razors and towels can spread the virus to another person. It can also spread the virus to different parts of your own body.
If you have cold sores, you should avoid touching the blisters. Use a separate towel to dry your face and body. If you do come in contact with the blisters, wash your hands well. The herpes virus can be spread to the fingers. Be very careful not to touch your eyes. Eyes infected by the virus can suffer from vision problems and even blindness.
Can Cold Sores Be Treated?
Cold sores usually clear up on their own without treatment. Some also respond well to over-the-counter remedies. Be sure to apply any creams with a cotton swab and not your finger. Talk with your doctor about over-the-counter pain medications if the cold sore is painful.
Sometimes, more aggressive therapy may be required, and there are prescription medicines that can help. Contact Kayal Dermatology to book a consultation today.
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