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How to Deal with Cold Sores and Fever Blisters

How to Deal with Cold Sores and Fever Blisters

Cold sores and fever blisters are uncomfortable and can leave their sufferers self-conscious. They are both caused by the herpes virus, which is passed through skin-to-skin contact or contact with an infected person’s saliva. As many as 80 percent of people have been exposed to the virus that causes cold sores, and the first symptoms usually appear by the age of 10. The virus cannot be cured, but it becomes inactive in the facial nerves. The virus can be reactivated periodically and will trigger cold sores when it does.


Stress, illness, excess sun exposure and other things can trigger a cold sore outbreak. If this is your first outbreak, the cold sores might be accompanied by a sore throat, fever, headache, nausea and vomiting. Later outbreaks will usually only involve the fever blisters. The first sign of a fever blister may be a tingling or burning sensation on the lip or border of the lip. The irritated area will quickly become swollen and inflamed, and within one to two days, the blisters appear, pop and form crusts. As the sores heal, the crusts will disappear.


In most healthy people, a cold sore outbreak will last from one to two weeks. They do not usually cause more severe dental or general health problems. If you are susceptible to cold sores, try to avoid known triggers. You may benefit from an antiviral medication such as valacyclovir, acyclovir or famciclovir, which should be taken at the first tingle of a cold sore. Do not kiss or have other direct or indirect oral contact with anyone else during an outbreak to reduce the risk of infecting anyone who has not been infected. Prevent infection in children by not allowing anyone with cold sore symptoms to kiss or share utensils or cups with them.


Call us as soon as possible if the sores last more than one week, are accompanied by a fever or if they interfere with your ability to talk or swallow. You may also need an exam if you have a second outbreak immediately after or during the current outbreak. Call us to schedule your appointment with our West Hollywood dentist.


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