What are cold sores?
Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, is a common viral infection. They are small, fluid-filled blisters that develop on the lips or around the mouth. The sores can be quite painful, causing the skin around it to become red and swollen, leaking a clear fluid.
Cold sores often start with a tingling, itching or burning sensation around the mouth. It is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) and usually clears up without treatment within 7-10 days, wihtout any scarring. Symptoms don't appear as you are infected with the virus, an outbreak of cold sores may happen at a later time, often triggered by factors such as fatigue, injury to the area or menstruation for women.
Cold sores can be passed from person to person as the Herpes Simplex Virus is highly contagious. Some people may have frequently recurring cold sores, while some might get one and never have another.
Symptoms don't show when you first contract the virus, an outbreak usually occurs at a later time, which might keep coming back for some people, while other never experience an outbreak at all.
Symptoms that may develop at a later stage due to the primary infection of the virus can be quite severe, and they vary between children and adults, but are most likely to develop in children aged below 5. These include;• Swollen and irritated gums with small, painful sores in and around the mouth, known as herpes simplex gingivostomatitis
• Sore throat and swollen glands
• Producing more saliva than normal
• High temperature of 38c or above
Herpes simplex gingivostomatitis can last 7-14 days, the sores might take up to three weeks to heal and doesn't usually recur after the primary infection.
In adults, primary herpes simplex viruses are rare, but the symptoms experienced are similar to those of children. Adults usually develop a sore throat without swollen glands, bad breath and painful sores in and around your mouth which can develop into ulcers. If contracted at an early age, the condition might be triggered periodically in later life, causing recurring bouts of cold sores.
Recurrent infections usually last for less time than primary infections, and are less severe. The only symptom experienced is an outbreak of cold sores, usually starting with a tingling, itching or burning sensation around your mouth. Small fluid-filled sores will then develop, usually on the edges of your lower lip.
If you have frequent recurrent infections, you may develop cold sores in the same place every time. They may grow in size and cause irritation and pain, oozing before crusting or scabbing in 48 hours.
Nothing is worse than the tell-tale tingle or burn on the lips hinting at the onset of a cold sore. Once developed they can take up to two weeks before they heal. Not only do they feel unattractive, they can also be quite painful. The responsible virus, doesn’t always cause noticeable symptoms, infecting a person quietly. This test can help determine the presence of the Herpes Simplex Virus at the slightest sign of onset, moreover it can also indicate past infections of the same virus.