So small, but so visible! Arising out of nowhere on your face and other body parts, cold sores spoil the entire image. This is the problem of many people, and you may be infected by this virus, too, but not know about it. This article will cover all the aspect of the issue: what causes cold sores and how to cure them.
What are cold sores?
Cold sores (also called “fever blisters”) – are small blisters around one’s lips and mouth that are caused by HSV (herpes simplex virus). This is a light type of infection that is experienced by practically ninety percent of all people in the world.
It looks like small red blisters that swell and sore. They can break over, emit transparent fluid, and then dry up and scab, disappearing in 7-10 days completely. As a rule, people have cold sores on face (around mouth, on the lips, cheeks and nose), but sometimes they may appear on fingers, inner arm and leg surface, and genitals. In rare occasions, it may spread around the entire human body.
Generally, the disease is not serious: blisters arise, ripen, crust and disappear. The first appearance is the most painful and problematic, while further on a human body develops immunity against the virus and suppresses its activity. However, the infection may affect children who are seriously ill and is quite dangerous for people with AIDS, severe eczema and other diseases or taking drugs that suppress immune system. The virus is also harmful when infecting an eye: it may become the reason of blindness or spread to the brain and cause meningitis or encephalitis.
Fever blister is a contagious disease: cold sore virus is transmitted by direct contact. For instance, if you kiss an ill person or touch his saliva, herpes simplex will get into your body through the skin. Besides, if a person practices oral sex with someone having a cold sore on lip or in mouth, he or she may be contaminated and acquire genital herpes.
What causes cold sores?
As it was mentioned before, fever blisters are caused by herpes simplex virus that is transmitted by direct contact only. Wonder what cold sore causes may be if you didn’t touch or kiss anyone ill? Don’t be surprised: you might have been contaminated even in your childhood when kissed by an adult. The thing is that getting infection doesn’t mean having blisters constantly.
Getting inside human body, herpes simplex finds some discreet place and “sleeps”. Core sores themselves appear when the virus activates. How does it happen? Here are cold sore stages:
- After being dormant for some unknown amount of time, the virus “wakes up”.
- It gets to the area that was initially infected via nerves.
- Skin surface where a cold sore is going to appear starts tingling, itching or burning. Children may experience other cold sore symptoms as drooling
- In a day, a red bump appears and then turns into a blister, swelling and sometimes collecting water-like fluid.
- In some 7-10 days the cold sore crusts and new skin grows under it.
- When the blister disappears, the virus goes back to “sleep” again.
Where do cold sores come from? The scientists still have no clear answer. They say, the virus may me waken up by a series of factors, including stress, illnesses and immune system inhibition, fever, stress, cold and sunlight, certain foods and medicals, hormone changes because of pregnancy or menstruation, tooth extractions, etc. There is no defined and concrete reason for the blisters to grow. But mind that cold is not what causes cold sores, as many people think because of disease name.
Types of cold sores
There are two kinds of viruses that cause slightly different diseases. While HSV1 is responsible for typical cold sores on mouth, face and other body parts, HSV2 is a more rare type that cases genital herpes.
What has been described before is usual cold sores, but genital herpes has its own peculiarities. It is transmitted by direct sexual contact: including oral sex. Both HSV1 and HSV2 may be agents for that. Note that the organism doesn’t live outside human body, so you cannot catch it by touching objects.
If you get contaminated, it is not necessary you will experience an outbreak. People may live for ages not knowing they are being vectors of the infection. But if the virus wakes up, cold sore symptoms are quite unpleasant:
- first, genitals may start itching or ache, and blisters are likely to appear within from several hours to several days;
- as a rule, in 2-20 days after contamination cold sores may appear in vagina, anus, penis, butt and scrotum and turn into small red blisters with water inside;
- they may complicate urinating because of causing pain during it;
- some time later the blisters may ooze, bleed and open up;
- cold sore treatment may get several weeks as far as it is a harder to cure disease;
- the person may also experience symptoms reminding of cold or flu: headache, fever, swollen lymph nodes.
Generally, the first outbreak is severest one. After that, body may start suppressing the virus. It may appear four-five times a year, or once, or not disturb a person at all. It depends on the immune system mostly.
This type of infection is not less dangerous than usual cold sores because of complications it causes. If a pregnant woman has genital herpes, during childbirth the newborn baby may acquire meningitis, seizures or even brain damage. Plus, genital herpes increases the risk of HIV as far as it decreases skin protective abilities, making human body less persistent to viruses and bacteria.
Ways to get rid of cold sores
Have noticed a blister and want to know how to treat a cold sore? In fact, the disease cannot be cured forever – once the virus gets into human body, it stays there till the end of your days, “sleeping” and waiting for something to activate it. When blisters appear, you have to wait for them to get away by themselves. But it doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be any cold sore treatment at all. You can help yourself to get over the outbreak.
To relieve pain, avoid eating acidic or spicy food: they irritate nerve ends and make you more sensitive to pain. There are also some over-the-counter cold sore remedies like Abreva: they help to minimize pain and fasten cold sore disappearance, making the skin to regenerate. Search for some other medicines containing numbing agents (menthol or phenol), and they will ease outbreak, making it almost unnoticeable for you.
There are also a lot of natural remedies for cold sores: lemon balm reduces time of cold sore healing, aloe vera may help to relieve genital herpes, if fresh cut leaves are applied to blisters, and ice serves as temporary relief and eases inflammation.
If the blisters won’t diminish, or you experience harsh symptoms, don’t hesitate to ask doctor how to stop a cold sore. He is more likely to do the following things:
- ask you to pass medical tests to define antibodies and the presence of the virus in your body (it won’t indicate when and how you were contaminates);
- prescribe cold sore ointment to be applied on blisters with such active ingredients as acyclovir, famciclovir and valacyclovir. Being antiviral medicines, they both ease symptoms and suppress HSV activity, reducing the risk of contamination and infection spread;
- recommend some anaesthetic drugs to provide cold sore relief.
Of course, it is always better to avoid the disease than cure it. That is why you should be careful not to catch the infection or at least not to transmit it to others. If you experience an outbreak, follow these recommendations:
- Wash your hands with soap after every time you touch a cold sore. If the blister is not opened up, you may gently wash it, too.
- Do not rub your eyes or touch your genitals after touching a cold sore – you may transmit the virus to other areas, which will turn into more serious diseases.
- When you get over the outbreak, replace your lipstick and toothbrush.
- Try to avoid direct contact with healthy people, don’t kiss them and don’t use their utensils.
- Apply sunscreen on your lips and face before going outside.
The most effective treatment of cold sores
How to heal cold sores quickly and without side effects? Use a high-quality ointment that will provide both virus suppression and skin regeneration. It is easy to apply, relatively cheap and very effective.
Herpeset is a modern cold sore medicine that ensures fast cold sore treatment, pain and itching relief, and virus suppression for a long time. It is an available and safe remedy that has been tested and approved. You can make an order on the official site.