Fever blisters can be identified as a cluster of tiny blisters or sores formed on the lips. They are also known as cold sores. Both children and adults may get fever blisters. It is transmitted from one person to the other through direct contact with the blister or its secretions. In children, it spreads when they rub the blisters with their hands and touch other children with the same hands. Among adults, this infection is most commonly acquired as a result of kissing.
Causes and Symptoms of Fever Blisters on Lips
Fever blisters occur on lips due to an infection by a highly contagious virus known as herpes simplex virus type 1 (or HSV-1). It is also called oral herpes as the virus tend to attack the wet cell membranes around the mouth. People are exposed to HSV-1 for the first time when they are in their childhood. This is known as the primary infection. In most cases, no symptoms are observed in the first few days of the viral attack. After a week or so, one or more symptoms show up. Like, fever, headache, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, and painful, open sores on the lips, gums and on the inside wall of the cheeks. These symptoms have a lot of similarity with viral or bacterial throat infections.
Once the primary infection subsides, the virus stays in the nerve roots of the infected area in a dormant state. Fever blisters are named so because the HSV becomes active mostly because of a fever. Some other factors that can lead to activation of herpes simplex include a weak immune system because of diseases like cancer or AIDS, malnutrition, trauma to the lips, stress, exposure to ultraviolet radiation, hormonal changes, etc.
Every time the HSV gets activated, new blisters erupt, particularly on the outer portion of the lips. The early signs that are observed just before the outbreak of the blisters are - a mild sense of burning, itching and tingling in the area. Then the lip swells up and its skin turns red. After a day or two, blisters emerge in clusters which later break open and a fluid substance is secreted. If the infection aggravates further, a number of tiny blisters merge to form ulcers and spread inside the mouth, on the gums and roof of the mouth or palate.
Cure for Fever Blisters on Lips
There is no such treatment that can help you to get rid of the virus that causes cold sores. However, certain measures can be taken to heal them up fast. They are as follows.
Antiviral Medicines: You know fever blisters are caused by a virus. Therefore, oral intake of antiviral medications can control the infection and provide some relief from the pain and swelling. In order to obtain the best results, these medicines should be taken at the very early stage of formation of the blisters.
Zinc: Along with the oral medicines, any topical cream which contains zinc is good to cure fever blisters. It has to be applied on the site of the infection a number of times all through the day. Research studies have found that zinc also decreases the chances of recurrence of outbreak of cold sores in future.
Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy is becoming a popular treatment for oral herpes. Essential oils like lavender oil, rose oil can minimize the painful symptoms. Even chamomile or lemon balm are used for the same purpose. Instead of direct application, mix one drop of the essential oil with jojoba oil and apply on the affected part 3-5 times everyday.
Home Remedies: Tannic acid present in tea has excellent antiviral properties that helps to reduce the size of fever blisters. To yield its benefits, you have to simply place a damp tea bag on the lips for around ten minutes. This should be repeated 3-4 times daily. Extracts of aloe vera works wonders on cold sores. Aloe vera with a strength rate of .05 percent is suitable for this treatment. It should be applied three times at least for five days before you can see some improvement.
Fever blisters on lips which are caused by the primary infection of the virus are far more severe than those which happen as a recurrence. Usually, the primary eruptions take two weeks or more to heal up while recurring ones last for around 8-10 days. It has been observed that the frequency of outbreak of fever blisters decreases after the age of 35.