Cold Sore: Signs, Treatment, How Long Does Cold Sore Last?

What is a Cold Sore?

The name cold sore can be quite misleading. Cold sores do not occur as a result of a cold. Cold sores are painful blisters, which are caused by a virus, but not the type of virus which causes your cold. A viral infection caused by herpes simplex virus produces the cold sores.

Cold Sore: Signs, Treatment, How Long Does Cold Sore Last?

What are the Signs of a Cold Sore?

Given below are some of the signs and symptoms of cold sores:

  • Patient suffering from cold sore has development of painful fluid-filled blisters, which are red in color.
  • There is itching and pain in these sores, which are usually found near the mouth or on the fingers.
  • Another sign of cold sore is experiencing flu-like symptoms, such as fever and swollen lymph nodes in the neck. These signs of cold sores are usually seen in the first attack and recurrent sores often don’t produce these signs and symptoms.
  • The gums of the patient suffering from a cold sore become sensitive and swollen and turn a deep red color.
  • Patient experiences itching and tingling in the area where there has been previous cold sores.

Serious Signs of Cold Sores Which Need Prompt Medical Attention

  • High fever and chills.
  • Spreading of the cold sores.
  • Extreme pain in the cold sores.

Where are Cold Sores Commonly Found?

Cold sores are also known as fever blisters and can develop anywhere on the body. The common sites of development of cold sores are on the lips and outside of the mouth. Cold sores can also be found on cheeks, nose or fingers.

What Happens After The Formation Of Cold Sores?

After the formation of the cold sores blisters, they break and ooze with a development of scab or yellow crust which eventually falls off with a new skin underneath.

How Long Do The Cold Sores Last? Are Cold Sores Contagious?

The cold sores commonly last about a week to 10 days. Cold sores are contagious until they crust over completely.

Treatment for Cold Sores

Cold Sores develop as result of a viral infection, so there is no exact cure for this. Treatment aims at alleviating the symptoms, such as pain. Patient needs to avoid acidic and spicy foods to avoid worsening of the signs and symptoms of cold sores. Ice application to the cold sores helps in relieving the symptoms of cold sores.

Over-the-counter medicines which contain numbing agents such as menthol and phenol help in cutting down the cracking and also soften the crust of the cold sores. Over-the-counter topical medicine such as Abreva helps a lot in speeding the healing process of the cold sores and reducing the pain from a cold sore.

Prescription anesthetic gel can be used on the cold sore if they are very irritating or painful. Some of the antiviral medicines which can be taken for treating cold sores include: famciclovir, acyclovir and valacyclovir. Antiviral medicines are more effective when they are started within the first 48 hours of the cold sores outbreak.

What Are The Complications Of Cold Sore and What Can Be Done For Them?

Complications can occur where there can be development of bacterial infection with cold sores. To avoid this, patient needs to keep the cold sores clean by gently washing them with soap and water.

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