Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are lesions that appear on the lips or skin near the mouth. The following article provides comprehensive information on the causes, symptoms, and treatment of this skin condition.
Fever blisters are painful lesions that last for a few days. So, even though you may think that you have got rid of them completely, they are not fully eliminated from the system. In this problem, the skin around the blisters turns red and swollen. It may so happen that the blisters may break open and leak a transparent fluid.
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two types of HSV, namely: type 1 and type 2. Both types can cause sores around the mouth and on the genitals.
☛ Type 1 HSV
HSV-type 1 infections are those which affect the body tissues above the waistline. These viruses are the major cold sore-causing agents.
☛ Type 2 HSV
HSV-type 2 infections are those which affect the body tissues below the waistline. These are the main disease-causing agents for genital herpes. This type 2 virus does not commonly cause fever blisters although it has the virulence for the same.
Probable Causes and Symptoms
✔ It is common knowledge that an infection is the result of a recent exposure to the pathogenic organism. But, in case of fever blisters, it is not a recent infection that causes the lesions but the reactivation of the dormant HSV present in the body.
✔ These pathogens are generally present in the body because of a previous infection, and the initial infection may not have caused the development of lesions. Doctors term this initial infection as ‘primary herpes stomatitis’.
✔ One may experience fever, headache, and difficulty in swallowing, and there are chances that the infected person may become irritable.
✔ Within a day or so of developing these symptoms, the person may develop a pain in the mouth, and the gums become inflamed. By the third day, blisters start appearing near the mouth and lips. These blisters remain painful, and one may experience difficulty while eating.
✔ Most of the cold sore infections occur before or near the age of seven. As the virus remains dormant in the body, their reactivation causes sores. Most of the symptoms are non-clinical, therefore, one may remain oblivious of the infection.
✔ The other reasons that may cause fever blisters are over exposure to wind and sun.
✔ Stress is another major cause that leads to this infection.
✔ If there is a high amount of arginine and low amount of lysine in the cells, cold sore blisters may pop up. Thus, by increasing the level of lysine, one may get rid of these blisters.
✔ Another major cause is a weak immune system. Low immunity makes one prone to recurring cold sore outbreak.
✔ Fever blister infections are very contagious. The most common way for the virus to be transmitted is through infected saliva. You may pass on the virus through the saliva despite not showing the presence of sores. The contagion lessens as the blisters dry and get crusted. These sores can never spread with the usage of commodities, like towels or clothes.
• There is no sure shot way to treat a cold sore, but many over-the-counter drugs are available which may help in the treatment and management. Your doctor may advice medicines that contain docosanol, which is capable of inhibiting the herpes virus.
• Other medications like numbing agents, that provide relief from burning, itching, and pain, may also be prescribed by medical practitioners.
• Your doctor may also suggest L-lysine supplements or the use of herbal medicines like sage and tea tree oil.
• The herbal sedative ‘Violet’ is also considered as an effective medical treatment.
• Lip balms help in moisturizing the lip region and prevent further cracking and bleeding.
• Sun screens that contain zinc oxide can help in preventing a cold sore outbreak that has been caused by the exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun.
☀ Home remedies such as applying ice can be of great help. Ice lowers the temperature of the tissue where the blister is forming. Thus, the metabolic rate of the tissue decreases and brings a halt to the development of the sore. Herpes virus cannot stand low temperatures, and ice sends the virus back to its dormant stage.
☀ Usage of a tea bag on the infected area is another effective home remedy. Tea contains tannic acid that possesses antiviral properties. You can place a moistened tea bag, for a few minutes every one hour, to bring the condition under control.
☀ Petroleum jelly is also effective, as it moisturizes the lesions, thereby preventing further cracking and bleeding.
You cannot prevent the onset of a cold sore, but can minimize the number of outbreaks. Avoid getting stressed to keep this malady at bay. In case the condition seems to be going out of control, then seek the advice of a physician at the earliest.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.