What is Cold Sore?
A cold sore is caused by HSV (Herpes Simplex Virus) as it generates various small and painful blisters on lips, mouth, nose, cheeks, etc. It is also known as fever blister. Cold sore is one of the common infection that 80-90% people get infected with any one form of Herpes virus. This infection can also be seen in children.
Symptoms of Cold Sore
The most common places for cold sore to show is at the outer of the mouth and lips area. However, you can get on your cheeks and nasal (Nose) area. It generally happens once in the lifetime and after that your body will generate antibodies, and you may never have another infection of cold sore. Generally, it takes around 15-20 days to see cold sores after you get infected by this infection.
Signs and symptoms depends on person to person. If it is your first outbreak or it is a recurrence. The sores can stay up to many days and it might take around 3 to 4 weeks for blisters to completely heal.
A cold sore generally happens in several stages:
- You will get an itching, burning and tingling sensations.
- After a day (12-24 hours), you might see blisters forming on your skin. The colour of the skin will turn red, swollen and painful.
- After 2-3 days the blister will break open and the fluid will come out of it. You will be finally get relived from the pain.
- A small scab will form on the sore and you might see it cracking or bleeding and it will finally fall off. (Don’t forget to clean the skin and consult your doctor for scars).
If it is your first outbreak of Cold Sore infection, then it might also cause:
- Burning sensation inside your mouth or gums,
- Sore throat and itching,
- Mild headache
- Mild body ache
Causes of Cold Sore
This virus spreads from person to person by close contact like kissing someone who contains the stains of HSV virus. It can also spread by coming in contact with some shared material things like razor, utensils or towels.
Cold Sores are usually caused by HSV type-1 (Herpes Simplex Virus) and less by HSV type-2. HSV type-1 usually causes cold sores, and HSV type-2 mainly causes genital herpes. However, both of these virus can be spread by mouth or oral sex. Cold sore are contagious even if you are unable to see it with your naked eyes.
Following things can trigger the Cold Sores:
- Oily food, Spicy food and Junk food
- Hypertension and stress
- Allergies to dust
- Dental or Smile surgery might trigger this infection.
Are Cold Sore serious or life threatening?
Generally speaking, it is not very serious but yes, it can be serious or life threatening for someone who has very weak immune system (might be because of AIDS or some other disease). The doctor can check it by just looking at the blisters or might extract fluid samples for HSV test.
Treatment for Cold Sore
As such there is no treatment for Cold Sore, your body will itself generate antibodies to fight with this infection and it might from 7-10 days. However, some of the below mentioned treatment can be used for cold sore for a speedy recovery:
Please note that these treatments are for education purpose only and it is not to be considered as a medical prescription.
- Antiviral creams like Zovirax and Denavir.
- Antiviral pills like Zovirax, famvir.
- If the infection is very severe, than injection may be used, such as Foscavir.
This infection can also be cured by using some of the below mentioned home remedies:
- You can use cold water damp compresses with a clean cotton.
- Moisturizer to keep the skin moisturize.
- Turmeric powder can help as an antibiotic.
Serious complications of Cold Sore
Though there are various less chances of any serious complication. However, it can happen if the virus spreads to another part of your body, including:
- Fingers– It can spread on fingers if not controlled on time. It is known as Herpes Whitlow.
- Genitals– It can spread ulcers or warts on your genitals and anus.
- Eyes– It can also be spread in your cornea and can cause blindness. It is known as HSV Keratitis.
How you can prevent Cold Sore?
You can prevent this infection from another outbreak by using following methods:
- Take plenty of rest – Sleeping of around 8 hours help your body to build healthy immune system.
- Use sunscreen
- Consult with your doctor – Please consult with your dermatologist, if you often face cold sores.
- Avoid sharing utensils, towels, razor or any other personal items.
- Keep your hands and skin clean.