The virus remains dormant in the body and can cause recurring outbreaks in the future
Most frequently occur on the lips and around the border of the lips
May also occur occasionally on the cheek, chin, nose or inside the mouth.
Commonly recurs at the same location on the skin
May last from 10 to 14 days
They can be transmitted through contact
Triggers of Cold Sores:
Emotional and physical stress which may lower the immune system
Colds or other upper respiratory tract infections
Environmental stresses: the sun (including tanning beds) and wind exposure
Hormone changes eg. during menstruation
local trauma or injury to the skin around the lips
Symptoms prior to an outbreak:
fatigue the day before the recurrence of the cold sore
a tingling, numbness, or just a feeling of discomfort at the site of the outbreak before it arrives.
a subtle tenderness or a sense of localized fullness or swelling in the skin at the location the outbreak will occur
Life Cycle of Cold Sores:
The inflammation stage – the skin may appear normal but there may be localized redness and swelling seen in response to the virus multiplying in the skin cells
The area is then very tender and small blisters appear to join together at the site of redness or inflammation. Some of the blisters may look like small red bumps.
The blisters break open and a moist sore can appear, this stage is the most painful
A scab forms over the sore which usually dry and eventually fall off. The cold sore is infectious until the scab falls off. It is important to keep the scab and sore clean because bacteria can get under that scab and cause infections.
The area may be slightly red for a couple of weeks as the skin heals.