Cold sores, or “fever blisters” are painful blisters that form on or near the lips and inside the mouth. Cold sore symptoms can vary but they typically may include:
- Painful blisters on the mouth, lips, nose, or throat
- Mouth and throat pain
- Burning sensation
- Swelling in the neck
- Fever, body aches, and feeling ill
- Numbness or tingling
Cold sores are caused by a virus called herpes simplex. There are two types of herpes virus, herpes type 1 and herpes type 2. Cold sores are more commonly caused by herpes type 1, type 2 herpes virus commonly affects the vagina or penis. The virus that causes cold sores is contagious and can easily be transferred from person to person. A sore on the lips can easily be transferred to the genitals or vice versa from the genitals to the mouth via oral sex. Close contact including sharing utensils or kissing someone with the cold sore can also cause the virus to easily spread to yourself.
Cold sores can come and go. Some may last up to twelve days. They can occur in children or adults. Stress, fever, lack of rest or sleep, and prolonged sun exposure can trigger a cold sore. Sometimes hormonal changes as in getting your period can also be a trigger.
Diagnosis of cold sores does not require testing, however testing can be done to test what type of virus is causing the cold sore. Treatment may include an antiviral prescription medication. Prevention tips include not sharing utensils, glasses, towels, lip palms, razors, or cups/drinks with others, especially if you notice an obvious lesion on someone else’s lips. Washing hands especially before eating may also help prevent cold sore and other viruses. If you have a possible cold sore, do not perform oral sex, kiss, or share the above items. Consult with a healthcare provider today to determine the best treatment for you based on your symptoms and duration of the symptoms.