Answers For YOUR Health

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  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 of them.

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 sore.

Once exposed to the herpes simplex virus it could take as long as 20 days before you will see evidence of a cold sore.

There are different strains of the herpes virus, with the one causing the cold sore being herpes simplex virus type 1.

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 age 35.

©Answers For Your Health.com/Cold Sore

 

 

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