It's the moment you and millions of others dread: You look in the mirror and notice a small bump on your lip. You hope it's just a pimple, but that tingling sensation tells you otherwise. Good thing you know that you may be able to control your cold sore symptoms and minimize mouth pain by treating it early on.
Recognizing the symptoms of cold sores means really getting to know them. If you already get them, you know how irritating each cold sore symptom can be. If not, you'll want to have a general understanding of cold sore symptoms so you know how to best treat them should you ever experience one.
The sooner you take action, the less severe your cold sore symptoms might be. Take a few minutes to learn about cold sore, or herpes, symptoms -- you'll be glad you did.
Understanding Cold Sores: Symptoms and Causes
Cold sore symptoms are experienced in several stages. The first cold sore symptom is a tingling or itchy sensation around the lips sometimes accompanied by a fever, sore throat or swollen glands. This is called the prodrome phase. Within one to two days, a small, hard bump will appear on or near the lips, eventually forming into a cluster of blisters over a raised red area of skin. These blisters will break, ooze a clear fluid and then crust over. The final cold sore symptom is a scab, which normally heals without leaving a scar.
Cold sore symptoms can be mild to severe and the entire process can last seven days to two weeks. The symptoms of cold sores can be painful for some people, but for most, they're more of an inconvenience. Some experience herpes symptoms on areas other than the lips, including the cheeks, chin, nostrils or on the inside of mouth. It is also possible to carry the herpes simplex virus and experience no cold sore symptoms at all.
Where Do Cold Sore Symptoms Come From?
Cold sores are caused by the extremely contagious herpes simplex virus, which is spread through direct contact. You can catch the virus by kissing, sharing items such as towels or utensils, or touching someone's cold sore and then touching your own mouth. The virus enters through a break in the skin, traveling to your facial nerves and remaining dormant until it is ready to attack.
If you become infected with the herpes simplex virus, you won't have cold sore symptoms right away, if at all. It normally takes two to 12 days for the virus to settle in and the first symptoms of cold sores to appear. Since the virus is in its highest quantity and most infectious early on, your herpes symptoms may be worse and last longer the first time you experience them.
Preventing Cold Sore Symptoms
Unfortunately, once you get the virus that causes cold sore symptoms, you have it for life. But that doesn't mean you can't reduce the possibility of breaking out in cold sores. Symptoms can be triggered by several outside factors, including stress, cold or flu viruses, a weakened immune system or exposure to sunlight. Avoiding the elements that contribute to outbreaks can help you prevent herpes symptoms from recurring.
Most people get the virus that causes cold sores as children and outbreaks tend to be less frequent after the age of 35. But it's important to note that anyone is susceptible to the herpes simplex virus. The best way to prevent cold sore symptoms is to avoid direct contact with someone who is experiencing an outbreak.
Treating the Symptoms of Cold Sores
There is no cure for cold sores and most heal on their own. But if you are bothered by your cold sore symptoms, there are things you can do to help decrease discomfort and speed up healing. There are some topical creams on the market that may shorten the length and severity of herpes symptoms. Although no natural remedies have been proven to heal cold sores, you may find that applying a cold compress or lemon balm to the area, eliminating spicy or acidic foods from your diet or taking lysine supplements may relieve some symptoms of cold sores.
If your cold sore symptoms last more than two weeks, you have frequent outbreaks or your fever blisters are extremely painful, you may want to contact your doctor or dentist. Prescription medications may be needed to help control your cold sores. Symptoms can be minimized and possibly prevented with antiviral drugs.
If you need a dentist to help you handle your cold sore problem, call us at 1-866-970-0441.