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Cold Sores

Cold sores is a common viral infection caused by Herpes virus. Those viruses cause sores and blisters on the lips or genitals and become contagious. 

What are cold sores?

Cold sores are commonly caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and caused less commonly by type 2 (HSV-2). Those viruses cause sores and blisters on the lips or genitals. When these sores burst, the disease can spread without any sores symptoms. 

How do you get cold sores?

Cold sores are highly infectious. They can spread easily from person to person via saliva or direct contact with ones infected with the virus such as sharing food, sharing cosmetics, hugging, kissing, etc.

After the first time being exposed to the Herpes virus, it does not go away but stays in your nervous system and will reactivate anytime when triggered. Some possible trigger factors include:

    • Hormonal changes during menstruation or pregnancy
    • Lip lesions (dry, cracked, or damaged lips)
    • Fever, cold, or flu
    • Stress


Patients infected with the Herpes virus go through several stages, and symptoms might vary depending on whether it is a first-time outbreak or a recurrent outbreak. If you are exposed to the virus for the first time, some symptoms might include:

    • Low-grade fever
    • Fatigue
    • Tingling and itching around the lips

Those symptoms may not start immediately until approximately 20 days later. Blisters will develop around the mouth areas a few days later, then start to seep and form a crust. Those blisters take 2 – 3 weeks to heal. They’ll often appear in the nearly same area if they ever return but in a less severe condition than the first time.

How to treat cold sores?

Currently, there is no cure for cold sores, yet medication can heal the outbreaks quicker and minimize the possibility of recurrence. If you have cold sores, you should be aware of these things: 

Gargle with saline water, then spit out the solution to relieve sore throat and clean the mouth area.

    • Do not directly contact your damaged skin with others.
    • Do not have intimate contact or oral sex with ones infected by the Herpes virus
    • Do not kiss others when you have blisters
    • Do not share personal items with others, such as towels, straws, skincare items, etc.
    • Do not put on makeup to cover blisters
    • Use clean and dry hands when touching the infected areas
    • Keep a healthy mind and healthy body
    • Take good care of your lips. You can use lip balm and try ways to protect it from UV light.

Children, pregnant women, and people with weak immune systems might encounter more severe symptoms and complications. Therefore, if you belong to any of those cases, you should see a doctor immediately when having an outbreak instead of using self-treat remedies. If you see an outbreak spreading quickly or get cold sores several times a year, you should also see a specialist for an effective treatment plan.

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