Cold sores are sometimes also known as fever blisters but in actual fact they are not caused by the cold or by fevers. Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (typically type 1, but type 2 can also be the cause of cold sores). Cold sores can be very painful and unsightly.
The virus is very contagious, and many people contract it when they are children after using the eating or drinking implements of someone who is infected. The virus then lives in the nerve cells that supply an area of skin. They lie dormant until the immune system becomes lowered, by stress, poor nutrition or trauma to the area such as sunburn.
In this situation the virus becomes active firstly causing a tingling in the skin area. Then small red lumps or fluid filled blisters appear. As they progress they can blend together and the blisters can burst. They often occur on the lips. Lesions last between 7-10 days normally.
Are cold sores contagious?
Sufferers are contagious during the outbreak stage, and should ensure that they do not pass the virus onto anyone else. Do not share eating or drinking implements and avoid contact with the lesion. Touching the cold sore and then touching other parts of the body can cause it to spread.
Cold sore remedies.
Some treatments can help to reduce the length of time that the cold sores last. One such product is Herdox. Read more in our Herdox review here.
During outbreaks it is recommended that sufferers also use a cream to help prevent cracking of the area which if it occurs can lead to bacterial infections as well. Terrasil is one such cream which is also designed to help resolve the outbreak faster.
Neither of these products is designed to prevent the condition, just to deal with the outbreak. There are several products however that aim to strengthen the immune system and reduce the frequency of herpes outbreaks. Generally they contain antiviral and immune boosting herbs. Herdox is one such product.
Another option is antiviral drugs like Acyclovir. They act to interfere with virus’s reproduction. Unfortunately they do tend to have other side affects as they interfere with the reproduction of other body tissues as well. Dynamiclear has been shown in a clinical trial to be more effective than Acyclovir in resolving an attack anyhow.
Cold sore or Canker sore?
Canker sores are small shallow ulcers that are inside the mouth (unlike cold sores which typical are outside). Canker sores typically last about a week. They have a number of reasons such as stress, vitamin or mineral deficiency, or injury to the tissues of the mouth such as sharp teeth or dental appliances.
Generally canker sores are non serious and resolve after a week or two. Consult your healthcare practitioner or dentist if they are large, spreading, lasting more than 3 weeks or accompanied by fever.
Diagnosing cold sores.
The first time a possible cold sore appears you should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional. They will be able to assist you in diagnosing the cause and recommend appropriate treatment. There are diagnostic kits available for do it yourself diagnosis, though you should still seek professional advice.
Cold sores are a common problem causing embarrassing lesions, that normally affect around the mouth area. While painful, they are not serious, and can be treated and prevented with appropriate products. Read our Editor’s recommended products section for the cold sore treatments we feel offer the best value and performance.