Cold sores occur commonly in the form of blisters or lesions on the oral cavity. These bumps are red and swollen and are also found on the lips. The blisters contain a clear fluid which may break open after few days. Cold sores do not require any treatment since it would heal on its own within few days. Though body’s immune system will generate antibodies for killing viruses still it is not eliminated in full. For this reason the symptoms may recur after some time. Cold sores are a viral infection caused by HSV herpes simplex virus. The same virus would also cause painful sores on the genitals.
How cold sores occur?
It is the virus herpes simplex that causes cold sores. It will gain entry into the body through small cut or injury on the skin. The disease is also contagious and can easily spread to another person when he touches the infected fluid accidentally. It can spread when a person kisses the affected person, shares razor with him, or through any other fluid connection. The infected mother will easily spread the virus to the children in this manner.
Some of the common signs of cold sores are swelling of mouth, sore throat, pain on the affected lips, and swollen lymph nodes on the neck or other parts. Many adults would have fever with body pain. The affected person will develop red colored small lesions on the oral cavity which will eventually discharge pus or fluid once it break opens. This is the time when the virus spreads easily to others when they touch the fluid. It would also spread to other parts of the body and the same person would develop painful sores on the hands/legs. Cold sores can be painful for some people but not for all. There are people who may not show any symptoms even if they develop cold sores.
It is the HSV virus that causes cold sores. Two types of herpes simplex are known to cause cold sores. Often Type 1 virus is the root cause of cold sores. Any person can get infected with the virus when he kisses or shares person items with the infected person. The infection can easily contracted if the person coughs through which saliva is passed to others. When a person has oral sex with someone who has been infected with herpes simplex virus he can easily get infected.
The virus becomes highly contagious when the blisters break open to discharge yellowish fluid. After few days the lesions are crusted over and eventually disappear within few days. It is interesting to note that you can get HSV from others even when he does not have any symptoms. There are many cases in which the person would not develop painful sores but may still have the virus.
Once the virus gains entry into your body it reaches the nerve cells and move up to ganglion. It is the safe place for the virus to stay for months together and even for years without causing any symptoms. This is called the latent period of the virus where it stays inactive. When the situations become favorable or if the immune system is weakened the virus would become active causing lesions on the lips or oral cavity.
Your doctor will examine your body for the above symptoms to find out if you have been infected with virus. He would look for the painful sores on the mouth or on the lips or even other body parts. He would also examine if the blisters are oozing out fluid. No special test is needed for diagnosing cold sores.
Very often cold sores need no treatment since the symptoms will heal in few days. You can consult your doctor if you have painful sores that cause discomfort. Depending on the intensity of cold sores your doctor would prescribe topical ointments or creams. For some people he would give oral pills for getting quick relief from the symptoms. Once you have the initial symptoms of cold sores you need not wait to go to the clinic. You can apply antiviral creams on the mouth/lips or infected area to get relief from the symptoms.
Sometimes cold sores will give burning sensation or tingling feeling on the mouth. You need to apply skin ointment liberally inside the oral cavity several times a day. Alternatively you can also use cold sore patches available over the counter. Apply this patch over the painful blister for quick healing process. In rare cases cold sores can lead to dehydration if the person develops cold sores on his throat. He may not be able to drink anything causing dehydration.
Risk Factors :
Cold sores can develop on any one irrespective of the age and gender. Even children or older adults can have cold sores. But certain factors like weakened immunity, exposure to UV rays of the sun, change in hormones, stressful events and trauma or injury to the skin can trigger the virus to become active causing painful blisters on the skin. Fever or common cold is the topmost factors that can cause cold sores. Once the person gets infected with cold sores the virus would stay in his body for many years.
Pictures of Cold Sores :
Images, Pics, Pictures and Photos of Cold Sores
You can avoid sharing towels, utensils or cups with someone who is suspected to have cold sores. Do not kiss or make direct skin contact with the person who has developed cold sores. Flaring of cold sores occur if you are exposed to harsh sunlight. Hence use sunscreen lotion liberally or avoid going out in hot summer.
The same person can spread the virus to other parts of the body. Hence it is advised not to touch the cold sores anytime once you are infected. It can easily spread to other body parts when you touch your eyes or genitals after touching the painful sores. Wash your fingers consistently before eating food.