Cold sores are small blisters that appear on the lip and around the mouth. They’re also called as fever blisters. The skin surrounding the blisters appears red, swollen and sore. Sometimes these blisters may break and a clear fluid may appear. Scab may also form after a few days on the sores.
Cold sores happened due to the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Two types of herpes simplex virus are available-HSV-1 and HSV-2. Both the viruses are capable of causing sores around the mouth and the genitals. Herpes labialis is the name of the problem when it appears around the mouth. The sores that appear on the genitals are called as genital herpes.
How does it happen
The herpes simplex virus gets entry into the human body through a break in the skin inside your mouth or around the mouth. The spreading can happen when an individual touches a cold sore or the infected fluid. Infection may spread from sharing eating utensils, touching infected saliva, using the same razors or kissing someone who is infected. That is why, the infection spreads from a parent to his or her child. Cold sores can also spread from one part of the body to another.
The first symptoms of this infection are pain around the mouth and the lips. A sore throat, fever or swollen glands in the neck or any other part of the body is some other symptoms. In case of small children, they sometimes drool before the infection happens. After the formation of the blisters, these sores break open and they leak the clear fluid inside them. After that, they crust over and after several days or weeks they disappear.
Some other symptoms that may show up are-
- A sore mouth. In that case, the individual will have problem eating, drinking, and sleeping.
- Pain around the mouth and lips.
- A fever.
- A sore throat.
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
- Drooling, in small children.
Even if you’re infected with HSV, cold sores may not develop at the first time. If they develop at the first infection, then they can be more severe in the future outbreaks. In case of the first outbreak of the sores, they may spread to any part of the mouth of the individual.
If any individual is carrying the virus and he/she does not get the infection, then there won’t be any symptoms. The problem can be very painful for some people.
After infection, the virus HSV stays in your body. That is why cold sores may return year after year. Recurrent cold sores are generally seen at the junction of the facial skin and the lip. You’ll be able to know before the sores develop. About 6 to 48 hours before it happens, you will feel tingling, itching, burning, numbness, pain and tenderness in the affected area. This is known as prodromal stage.
There are some common triggers available which can cause cold sores. They include-
- Exposure to sunlight, especially on your lips
- Stress or fatigue
- Presence of other infections like cold or flu
- Food allergies
- Dental treatment
- Injury to lips and gums
- Impaired or weak immune system
- Cosmetic surgery like dermabrasion or laser skin resurfacing
- Hormonal changes due to menstruation
People who have weakened immune system are more likely to suffer from severe and longer outbreaks of cold sores. In those people, sometimes HSV infections can be life-threatening.
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