What is a cold sore? Explore more on the meaning, causes, healing stages and the various pictures and images showing the result of cold sore outbreak.
What is a Cold Sore
Cold sore are sometimes known as fever blisters. They are a group of small blisters or sores that erupts on the lips, chin, inside and outside the mouth, cheeks and nostril. The sores are characterized by pain, itching, burning sensation and swelling of the affected areas.
A few days after infection, the sores develops and became filled up with a clear fluid known as serum. The blisters may burst to ooze the fluids and start forming a scab. The duration on how long do cold sores last usually depends with the severity of the blister but in most cases it normally take 10 days or 2 weeks to heal completely.
Causes of Cold Sores – What Triggers In the Mouth, Lips, Tongue
Herpes simplex virus is what causes fever blisters or cold sores. There are two type of herpes simplex virus known as type 1 [HSV-1] and type 2 [HSV-2]. It is a highly contagious infection that is transmitted through body contacts, kissing, sharing of utensil, towels and razors and through sexual intercourse with an infected person.
The type 1 causes sore blisters inside the mouth, edges of lips, mouth and nostril, cheeks and chin. Other parts of the mouth such as the gums and palate may be affected but it is not common. You may mistake a canker sore with a cold sore. Canker sore are caused by ulcer micro-organism and forms a painful sore on the soft mouth lining where the cold sores doesn’t appear.
Herpes simplex type 2 normally causes genital herpes. It forms painful sore around the genital area or on the different parts of the genitals. You are likely to get infected by having sexual intercourse or oral sex with a man or a woman who has an outbreak of this infection.
Herpes simplex virus is highly contagious especially in children or babies. After infection the virus is transported to the nerves and becomes dormant. They may reactivate for several times in a year to cause recurring of an outbreak. Some people may suffer the outbreak up to three times a year, others once or the virus may remain dormant forever.
However, reactivation of this virus is triggered by certain factors resulting to the outbreak. Some of this factors are environmental while others varies from one person to other. They include the following according to
- Weak body immune system
Weakened body immune system by diseases like HIV and Aids give herpes simplex virus a chance to reactivate and caused cold sore outbreak. You need to stay healthy by taking a diet and medicines that help to boost your body immune system.
- Strong sunlight
A part from skin damage by the ultraviolet rays from the sun, high sun intensity is among the major reason as to what is a cold sore trigger. Stay in the shade or apply sunscreen and other protection that guards your body from strong sun rays. Wear a hat or beach umbrella while going outdoors on a sunny day.
Both emotional and physical stress weakens your immune system and hence giving herpes simplex virus an opportunity to reactive to cause a recurrence of an outbreak. You are supposed to give yourself enough time to relax. Have enough time to sleep and engage in sporting activities that will keep you happy all the time.
In most cases the respiratory infections causes the outbreak of cold sores. Seek medical treatment to cure such infection. Wear warm clothing and avoid dusty environment that may cause such infections.
- Menstruation in women
During menstrual cycle, there is hormonal changes that occurs during that period that triggers reactivation of herpes simplex virus. The stress during the cycle also contributes to an outbreak.
- Tiredness and fatigue
Overworking yourself may cause tiredness and fatigue which lowers your body immune system. This creates a good chance for cold sore outbreak. Relax, take time to refresh your body by doing light exercise and having enough sleep.
- Fever or high body temperatures
Conditions such as fever, cold or flu raises your body temperatures above the normal limits. Take plenty of fluids which helps to lower your body temperatures. You may also have enough rest to avoid the outbreak of fever blisters.
- Dental surgery
Trauma caused by injury or surgery on the lips may also trigger the herpes simplex virus to reactivate to cause an outbreak on the tongue, lips, cheeks and some other parts of your face. The dentist is supposed to perform the surgery with a lot of care to minimize trauma.
What Causes Cold Sores? During Pregnancy
Having a first outbreak of cold sores during pregnancy is the worst experience. It causes severe blisters on the affected areas that may not seem to end. During pregnancy, your body encounters hormonal imbalances, stress, fatigue and weak immunity. This factors are the answer as to what is a cold sore causes during pregnancy.
The outbreak of this infection during pregnancy is risky to the life of the fetus you are carrying. An infection during pregnancy causes the virus to multiply easily and they may cause severe blistering in the affected areas. Also the may cause a recurrence before you deliver your baby. The pain and discomfort caused by the blisters causes a lot of stress that may have a negative impact to the fetus.
The outbreak of cold sores during pregnancy third trimester interferes the production of antibodies. The antibodies are very important during the labor as they are required to counter for infections. The herpes simplex virus usually take the advantage of pregnancy to multiply in large numbers to take control over other normal body functions.
There are various measures and remedies can be employed on how to get rid of a cold sore fast. They also help to prevent giving birth to herpes simplex infected baby. They includes:
- Take necessary precautions to avoid coming in contact with infected individuals. You and your partner should be tested for herpes simplex virus. If your partner test positive, avoid having sex until he recovers from the infection.
- Take oral antiviral medicines to reduce the pain, itching and burning sensation of the blisters. Such medicines are taken as prescribed
- Take Valtrex, though it belongs to class B drugs. It is a cold sore medicine that prevents herpes simplex virus from infecting the baby during delivery. It is a drug that is animal tested and it’s proven for human treatment. According to
Cold Sore Stages – Of Healing
Previously you learnt about the meaning of what is a cold sore, but before the blisters forms there are different stages of outbreak that you will experience. After getting infected with herpes simplex virus, you may develop the symptoms after a few days. In some people, the virus may remain dormant and cause an outbreak later or the virus can remain inactive forever depending with their body immune system and other factors.
The outbreak of cold sores normally last between 8 to 10 days. Severe outbreak may take up to 2 weeks to heal. During this period, there are 5 stages of the outbreak that you will experience. Home remedies and other treatments such as Abreva cream can be used on how to get rid of fever blisters fast hence reducing the healing time. The five stages includes:
- Stage 1 : Tingling
This is the initial symptoms stage of cold sore outbreak that normally take 1 to 2 days. There is usually presence of tingling, itching and a burning sensation on the affected areas. Commonly experienced on the edges of mouth, lips and nostril. Other symptoms such as swelling, redness and soreness may also appear on the affected areas.
This first stage is also known as prodromal stage. This is the only stage you can use to control this infection. Though there is no cure of this infection for now, cold sore remedies can be used to control the pain and reduce the healing time. Other treatments such as antiviral medications, topical antiviral creams and over-the-counter medicines can be taken to minimize the severity of blisters. According to .
- Stage 2 : Blistering
From day 2 to 4 you will start to see eruption of blisters. They form in small groups of painful sores that grows. As the body white blood cell tries to fight the infection, the blisters becomes filled up with a clear fluid that contain a lot of herpes simplex virus.
- Stage 3 : The ulcer stage
On the day 4 of blistering, comes a weeping stage. This is the most painful stage of the outbreak of cold sores. The blisters ruptures to ooze the fluid leaving shallow open ulcers or sores. From what is a cold sore, you learnt that this is a highly contagious stage.
- Stage 4 : Crusting
This is also known as scabbing stage. Ruptured sores starts to scab during day 5 to 8 of the outbreak. The crusting formed may shrink, crack and bleed. It may also be accompanied with some itching and burning sensation. Shedding may occur leaving a red sensitive mark.
- Stage 5 : Healing
This is a cold sore final stage. The affected areas starts to return to their normal state from day 8 to 10. This infection does not leave scaring after healing. The virus goes back to your nerves and become dormant. The virus may reactivate later to cause a recurrence of the outbreak. Reactivation may be triggered by factors such as stress and weakened immune system among others.
Cold Sores Pictures and Images
There are various pictures and images showing the various results of cold sore or fever blisters. From the pictures, we can see that the most affected areas includes, edge of mouth, lips, cheeks, chin and also on the genital areas. The affected areas becomes swollen, tender and red.
Though there is no treatment, there are remedies and treatments you can use on how to get rid of a blister without popping it out. You should leave a blister to heal on its own. Draining or touching the sores can spread the infection to other parts of your body and to other people who comes in contact with the blisters.