“What is a cold sore?” you may ask. Well, a cold sore or a fever blister is a red, painful blister that usually occurs around the lips and in the mouth.
Cold sores are indicative of oral herpes, medically known as herpes labialis, which is in turn caused by the herpes simplex virus.
It is one of the main dominating symptoms of oral herpes. This simply (and unfortunately) means that when you have cold sores in the mouth, you are 99% likely to have oral herpes.
What Causes Fever Blisters?
As was previously mentioned, fever blisters are caused by the herpes simplex virus, also known as the cold sore virus. Essentially, the blisters that appear in the mouth are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1, HSV-1 for short. Another related virus, the HSV type 2 mainly causes genital herpes, which is also characterized by cold sores that appear in the genital area.
What Does a Cold Sore Look Like: Info About Cold Sore Stages
The appearance of a cold sore differs depending on the severity and the stage of a cold sore. There are various stages in the life cycle of cold sores:
- The Tingle/Prodome Stage. On this initial stage, you would sense some soreness, swelling or tautness in the location where the cold sores will appear in. The cold sore is usually not obvious externally during this time.
- Blister Stage. In two to three days, fluid filled blisters become visible. They usually start out small but form clusters.
- Weeping Stage. On the fourth day, cold sore blisters usually rupture leaving a reddish but shallow ulceration. The surface of the cold sore then becomes gray in color. This is the most painful stage of the outbreak.
- Crusting Stage. A few days after the ulceration, you may feel that the area has dried out and has formed a scab with a brownish crust. The scab usually itches and you might feel some burning sensation. Scabs can break or crack, leading to slight bleeding.
- Final Healing Stage. Within 10 to 14 days from the first symptoms, cold sores usually heal, flake away and disappear. You do not have to worry about scarring, as cold sores usually do not leave marks on the skin.
The Difference Between Cold Sore and Canker Sore
People often mistaken cold sores to be canker sores, and vice versa. Both canker sores are painful and annoying, but they appear differently.
Canker sores are white and they are usually open sores that grow soft, internal areas of the mouth. They are a form of mouth ulcer and are definitely not contagious. They are also neither fluid filled nor do they form in clusters.
Is This a Cold Sore or Pimple?
Cold sores are definitely not pimples. Pimples appear as tiny bumps which sometimes become pus filled, but they do not appear singly, nor do they tend to cluster. Pimples can feel painful, but the pain roots from the inner layer of the skin, and not on the surface. Pimples are never contagious.
What to Do For Fever Blisters
What are cold sores and what can we do about them? You must know that oral herpes can be difficult to deal. The HSV virus does not tend to leave the nervous system for good once a cold sore outbreak heals.
However, there are many cold sore medications and remedies out there for you that will definitely help make oral herpes symptoms more manageable.
There are over-the-counter medications that will lessen the discomfort and pain that usually accompanies fever blisters.
You can also resort to home remedies such as cold compress, tea bag application, applying moisturizers and petroleum jelly, and using herbal remedies such as tea tree oil and sage, among others.
You can also supplement your diet with lysine and zinc, which has been seen to help accelerate the healing process.