Cold Sores – Pictures, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Cold sore is a common health issue found in people throughout the world. Cold sores are also referred to as fever blisters. These are tiny lesions filled with fluid which can be seen around or on your lips. These blisters are often in form of clusters patched together. These may break away in few weeks and leave behind crust of dry skin. Usually these blisters may take approx two weeks to heal. This condition is contagious and may spread from person to person through direct content such as through a kiss etc. HSV virus is considered as the cause of this condition which may also cause it to recur sporadically. HSV virus can spread through oral sex and may also affect your genitals.

Cold sores – symptoms

Those who are affected with the relevant virus may have no symptoms of cold sores. Yet they may be contagious and pose risk of transferring to the unaffected partner out of knowledge, even if blisters are not present. People who experience symptoms may have different signs according to various stages. Some of these signs include:

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Itchiness and tingling: Even before blisters due to cold sores occur people may experience additional symptoms such as tingling, burning and itchiness around their lips. These symptoms may last for a day or two.

Blisters:  Blisters are tiny clusters of blebs which are typically filled with fluid. These blisters occur along the edge of the lips and spread slightly to the surround skin. However, blisters can appear on cheeks and nose as well.

Oozes and Crusts: These blisters may gradually merge over few weeks and then burst. This may leave the sores shallow and open which may cause it to ooze fluid and later crust is formed.

Symptoms that are accompanied with this condition may also depend on factor whether it is the first out break cold sore or recurring cold sore. However some additional symptoms of the condition may include:

  • Fever
  • Soreness of throat
  • Head pain
  • Ache in muscles
  • Swelling in lymph node

Children below 5 years of age may also suffer from cold sores and lesions may occur within their mouth. These lesions are often mistaken with canker sores. Young children may likely spread the contagion to other parts in the body such as finger or skin region around their eyes.

In some individual the virus can also lead to other issues in different area of the body. Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 virus can spread to fingers of the affected person. Affected children may spread the infection to mouth if they are habituated to sucking fingers. Herpes virus can also cause conjunctivitis. In serious cases vision problem or blindness may result if the infection itself originates from the eye. Individuals affected with skin problem called eczema are more susceptible to cold sores which may spread all around the body. This can be a very serious medical emergency. People who are also affected with weak immune system the condition may metastasize to other significant organs such as lungs, brain and liver.


Cold sores are often caused due to a virus called Herpes Simplex Virus abbreviated as HSV. There are two types of HSV, HSV-2 is responsible for causing genital Herpes while HSV-1 is that virus that leads to cold sores. However, either of these viruses can cause sores appearing in the facial area. At first you may get affected with herpes through contact with the affected person. The virus may also affect you if you share eating utensil, share razors towels etc. Having oral sex can also transfer HSV-1 genitals and lips.

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Are cold sores contagious ?

The virus is highly contagious even when you see no blisters, but the condition is most contagious while it is oozing. Once you have had affliction of herpes infection the virus becomes dormant and remains in the nerve cells of your skin. It may again become active and emerge at or around the original site of sore. The recurrence of affliction may be triggered due to primary conditions such as fever, menstrual cycle, stress, lethargy, sun exposure, etc.  In all its stages of lesion formation, a cold sore is contagious. In fact, one can say that it is contagious for 21-23 days. The sore starts in the form of a tingling feeling, after which there is a bump, which progresses into a little lump. When a person has cold sore, it is recommended to avoid kissing or sharing things like razors and toothbrushes.

 Treatment for cold sores

Often cold sore does not need any treatment as it cures on its own in most cases. It may need around 2 weeks for the condition to vanish. There are some antiviral medications which can speed the process of cold sore healing. These antiviral drugs include Acyclovir, Valacyclovir, Penciclovir, etc.  These drugs are available in oral medicine form while some are in form of tropical lotion. In case of severe infection some of these antiviral drugs are administered intravenously.

In some cases doctor may suggest you antiviral drugs on regular basis. This is especially in case if you develop cold sore frequently or you are at risk of serious issue. Taking these medicines on regular basis can help you prevent recurring cold sores. You can also prevent the condition from spreading to other body regions or to other people by following precautionary measures. You should strictly avoid direct contact with unaffected individuals if you are affected with blister. Virus of cold sore easily spread when fluid secretion from blister is present. If you have cold sore blisters avoid touching and touching other parts of the body especially your eyes and genital area as they are usually susceptible to such viruses. Affected individual should also avoid sharing things such as towel, utensils, etc. You should maintain utmost hygiene when affected with the virus. This will help in reducing chances of cold sore virus spreading to others as well as other unaffected parts of your body.

Cold Sores – Pictures

Here are photos or images of cold sore on lips and mouth


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