Fever blisters, which are also called cold sores, are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1. This HealthHearty write-up provides information on the symptoms and treatment of fever blisters.
Cold sores or fever blisters usually appear on the lips, mouth, cheeks, and in and around the nostrils. The causal organism for this condition is the Herpes Simplex Virus Type-1. The virus enters through a break in the skin. It can be easily transmitted from one person to another. Also, after the outbreak, the virus lies dormant in the body. It can get reactivated due to stress, sunburn, fever, certain infectious diseases, etc. Though there is no cure for cold sores, the symptoms can be alleviated with the help of certain drugs. Usually, the blisters resolve within a couple of weeks.
This virus can easily spread through physical contact and saliva. The outbreak lasts for 9-12 days, during which it goes through different phases that are listed below:
On the first and second day, symptoms such as itching and a tingling/burning sensation are experienced at the spot where the blisters will eventually appear. This phase is also known as the prodrome stage.
On the second and third day, a cluster of fluid-filled blisters appear.
This is the most painful phase. The blisters rupture, oozing out the fluid, and forming a painful sore. This fluid is highly contagious.
The lesion becomes dry and starts forming a scab. The scab is characterized by a brownish crust, which bleeds from cracking.
Scabs are formed around the lesion. As the scabs flake off, new smaller scabs form. Ultimately, the blisters start flaking off. The lesion heals, leaving behind no scars.
There is no definite cure for fever blisters. However, the symptoms can be managed with the help of drugs.
Since the causal organism is a virus, the treatment involves the use of antiviral medications such as famciclovir, valacyclovir, or acyclovir. Products that contain docosanol might be prescribed. Docosanol has an inhibitory effect on the herpes virus. This product works best when applied during the tingle stage.
Other Compounds and Numbing Agents
It is important to keep the cold sore moist. There are a variety of skin protectants like moisturizers and lip balms which contain ingredients like petrolatum, allantoin, cocoa butter, and glycerin. Lip balms containing zinc oxide can be used for protecting the delicate skin from sun.
These are available in oral as well as topical form. There are various analgesics like benzocaine, lidocaine, phenol, camphor, and benzyl alcohol, which might help in relieving pain. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen could also provide temporary relief from pain.
Intermittent application of ice reduces pain and itching. If applied during the tingling phase, it reduces the temperature of the area where the blister will form, thereby lowering its metabolic rate and the duration.
Tannic acid present in tea has antiviral properties. It can prove beneficial, if applied during the tingling phase.
A good moisturizer helps soften the lesion. It prevents the lesion from bleeding due to cracks.
Other products like aloe vera and honey are also known to possess antiviral properties. Essentials oils like sage and tea tree oil are known to possess antiseptic properties.
Following these precautionary measures can also help curb the spread of fever blisters.
➠ Use an ointment to soften the sores.
➠ Clean the affected areas regularly to avoid a bacterial infection.
➠ Follow a bland diet to reduce irritation of the cold sores.
➠ Refrain from touching the lesion.
➠ Avoid kissing, as this virus can spread through person-to-person contact.
➠ Avoid excessive exposure to sunlight.
➠ Wash your hands regularly.
On a concluding note, affected individuals must follow the aforementioned precautions, so that the virus doesn’t get transmitted to others. It’s advisable to seek medical assistance for proper treatment.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.