Viral Skin Infection A Cold Sore
A Cold Sore or Fever blister is not part of the common cold.
The herpes simplex virus causes a cold sore. They are very
contagious. Cold sores are common. Although they
cannot be prevented, you can reduce the frequency and duration
Most people infected with the type 1 herpes simplex virus
became infected before they were 10 years old. The virus
usually invades the moist membrane cells of the lips, throat or
mouth. In most people, the initial infection causes no
symptoms. About 15 percent of patients, however, develop many
fluid-filled blisters inside and outside the mouth 3 to 5 days
after they are infected with the virus. These may be
accompanied by fever, swollen neck glands and general aches.
The blisters tend to merge and then collapse. Often a yellowish
crust forms over the sores, which usually heal without scarring
within 2 weeks.
The first telltale sign of a cold sore is the tingling on
the lip and hard spots that you can feel but not see in the
mirror. In a day or two red blisters will appear where the hard
spot was. The blister is on a red, and painful area of skin.
The tingling is called "prodrome" and often arrives a few days
before the blister appears.
The cold sore itself can last up to 10 days. Cold sores
usually will pop up on your lips. You can occasionally get them
on other places as well, such as your nostrils, fingers, roof
of your mouth, gum line, and also hard palate, and you may get
them on your chin. Do not confuse a cold sore with a canker
Once exposed to the herpes simplex virus it could take as
long as 20 days before you will see evidence of a cold
There are different strains of the herpes virus, with the
one causing the cold sore being herpes simplex virus type
The type 2 viruses are the culprits behind genital herpes.
You can get sores on the facial or genital area from either of
the two viruses.
You can pass along the cold sore by sharing utensils,
razors, towels and other personal items where there is a
touching of the cold sore with the item and then someone else
touches the spot where the item touched the spot. Towels should
not be left in the bathroom and should be washed in hot water
and bleach as well as soap.
Sometimes stressors can bring on cold sores such as when you
are under stress, have a fever, are menstruating, or are
exposed to the sun. Hence the common name cold sore - fever
with a cold.
It is important to see your doctor if you have a weakened
immune system and have a cold sore, the cold sore does not heal
within 2 weeks, your symptoms are severe, you have many
recurrences of cold sores or if you should experience
irritation in the eye area.
Complications of Cold Sores
They are contagious so you can pass them to others in your
family. The biggest contagious period is when the blister is
visible. If you have a cold sore, avoid contact with infants,
anyone who has eczema and anyone who has a suppressed or
weakened immune system (people with AIDS, cancer etc.)
Seek medical help immediately if you get cold sores near
your eyes as the complications can lead to blindness caused by
scarring of the cornea.
Treatment for Cold Sores - Fever Blisters
You usually do not need any type of treatment for a cold
sore. It should clear up by itself within 10 days. Your doctor
may prescribe an antiviral medication if you have
frequent cold sores. There are topical medications that
you can get over-the-counter that can shorten the duration of
the cold sores and decrease the pain.
The herpes virus, however, stays in the body. Once a person
is infected with oral herpes, the virus remains in a nerve
located near the cheekbone. It may stay permanently inactive in
this site, or it may occasionally travel down the nerve to the
skin surface, causing a recurrence of fever blisters.
The symptoms of recurrent fever blister attacks usually are
less severe than those experienced by some people after an
initial infection. Recurrences appear to be less frequent after
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