Cold Sores

What are cold sores?

Cold sores — or tiny, fluid-filled blisters on and around your lips — are caused by a contagious virus called herpes simplex. There are two types of the virus, Type 1 (HSV-1) — which causes oral herpes, or cold sores — and Type 2 (HSV-2), which causes genital herpes. However, both of these viruses can affect your mouth or your genitals. HSV-1 will infect more than half of the United States population by the time they reach the age of 20, and the virus is passed from person-to-person through close contact, such as kissing or oral sex.

What are the symptoms of cold sores?

Some individuals have no symptoms from the HSV-1 infection, but others will develop painful and unsightly cold sores that can last for a week or more. Typically, a day or so before cold sores develop, you may feel a tingling, burning, or itching sensation around the lips or on the mouth (usually, the gums or the roof of the mouth), chin, cheeks, or even in the nostrils. Cold sores will begin as small, hard, painful spots, which then turn into blisters that may burst and ooze with fluid and crust over. In addition to cold sores, you may experience a fever, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, or painful eroded gums — especially during your first outbreak.

How does ID Care diagnose cold sores?

ID Care physicians can easily diagnose cold sores just by looking at them — but we’ll also take a sample of your blister to test in the lab so we can most accurately diagnose whether or not you have HSV-1.

How does ID Care treat cold sores?

Although most cold sores clear up on their own, there is no permanent cure. At ID Care, we offer a variety of medications that will relieve some of the pain and discomfort your cold sores cause — from numbing ointments and topical creams that soften the crusts of the sores, to antibiotics and antiviral drugs that expedite the healing process.