Cold sores are a patch of tiny blisters that appear on your lips and occasionally in the nose. Another name for them is ‘fever blister’ and the medical term is recurrent herpes labialis.
At first, you can tell something is going on because there is a bump on your lip that is sort of tingly. Soon the blisters popup and becomes really painful and annoying. A scab forms over the blisters soon after they appear.
Cold sores are extremely contagious and are caused by the HSV-1 virus. If you catch this virus then it can lay dormant in your body forever and occasionally become active.
Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 usually only becomes active showing itself above the waist. This is the type that causes 90% of the cold sores we see today. It is usually picked up as a child from either a parent or brother/sister. Herpes Simplex Virus type 2 affects the tissues below the waistline causing genital herpes. Strangely enough, it is also responsible for the remaining 10% of cold sores that appear around the mouth and nose.
A cold sore is not normally something that you would go see the doctor about. They are usually cared for at home with OTC medications. If you decide to go to the doctor then there are tests that they can perform (such as cell scrapings) to determine which type of herpes that you are dealing with.
Herpes is most commonly spread through physical contact, like kissing. Make sure that you are really clean about yourself and wash your hands thoroughly to avoid spreading the infection to other parts of your body or to somebody else.
When herpes is first caught it does not normally result in a cold sore. This makes it difficult to determine when the virus was caught. It lies dormant in your body just waiting for your immune system to weaken and then the cold sore appears. The virus has found a small crack in your skin and infected the cells. The herpes simplex virus is always looking for new cells to infect.
There are a handful of topical creams that you can buy to help stymie the pain a cold sore causes. If you are really concerned about getting rid of the cold sore quickly you can go to the doctor and get a stronger prescription. Keep in mind, a prescription will have side effects just like any other. Left alone, a cold sore will normally disappear within a week to 10 days.
Boosting your immune system with herbs offers a safer alternative than prescription medication. Echinacea and Viscum Album can both be used to temporarily strengthen your immune system. Olea Europea is also effective because it will work to fight off the herpes simplex virus.
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