What Causes Those Annoying Cold Sores?

It’s exciting to have a job interview or a date scheduled for a day. The sense of optimism and excitement can make your entire day enjoyable. However, there’s nothing worse than waking up in the morning of that day with a cold sore on the edge of your lip.

Suddenly the sense of excitement is replaced with a sense of dread. Many people will worry about being judged. The physical appearance and the stigma behind having a cold sore can be enough to ruin many people’s day.

However, they don’t need to feel this discomfort. Cold sores are very common. They are simply caused by a virus that will often remain dormant for a long period of time before flaring up.

What is a Cold Sore?

Many people confuse cold sores with canker sores. Cankers are on the interior of the mouth. They are actually tiny ulcers on the interior of your mouth. Cold sores are blisters on the exterior of the mouth. These can be very painful for some people, while others suffer from relatively little discomfort. Generally the biggest problem is that they are very distinct facial marks that many people find embarrassing.

Cold sores may lie dormant for a long period of time. People will not exhibit symptoms at all beforehand until the flare up occurs. Those who get a cold sore may suddenly believe that they have recently been infected, but it could have been years before when they got the virus.

What Causes Cold Sores?

Cold sores are caused by the Herpes simplex virus. This virus comes in two strains. HSV-1 and HSV-2. The viruses can be passed along through any skin or mucus coated surface. It’s hard to avoid getting and it’s been estimated that between 85% and 90% of American adults actually have the HSV-1 virus. The symptoms merely remain dormant for a long period of time. HSV-2 is the more vicious cousin of HSV-1 and is responsible for the more aggressive genital herpes.

Anyone who has the virus can have it pop up. There aren’t always obvious reasons for it to flare up. Despite that, there does seem to be some factors that are pretty common in flare ups.

Cold Sore Treatment

Cold sores don’t last very long, so a lot of treatment isn’t necessary. The virus itself is unable to be cured, but since it mostly lays dormant, that’s not a huge issue.

Most people treat cold sores with over the counter treatments or herbal remedies. There are a wide variety of creams, balms and gels that claim to soothe all the discomfort that a cold sore can cause. Other people will take over the counter painkillers to reduce discomfort.

Cold Sore Stages

Cold sores actually have multiple different stages. They last for about a week or two without treatment and during that time they will undergo the following stages:

  • Tingling/Itching - This is the first stage and people will start to feel these issues around their mouth.
  • Sores Appear - The cold sores appear and they can be painful or cause irritation to some people.
  • Sores Break - This is the third stage and one of the least enjoyable. During this stage, the sores will break and ooze fluid out.
  • Crust Forms - The fluid from the sores that oozed out originally will instead now crust over. Once it is finished and scabs off, the stages are over. Thankfully cold sores don’t leave scarring.
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