If you suffer from frequent fever blisters, which are also known as cold sores, then you know how painful and uncomfortable they can become. Given that there really is no cure for the virus which causes these sores, most who suffer from them must take precautions to avoid outbreaks, which are usually signaled by a sensation of burning or intense tingling in the mouth or lip area. This is a guide to understanding cold sores, as well as some tips on how you can determine whether or not you actually have them and how to prevent them.
What are Fever Blisters?
A fever blister outbreak will occur around the mouth in the form of a cluster of small sores which are red and painful. Often the area will be swollen, and can even extend to the lips themselves. For some who suffer from these sores, the sores will open and a clear fluid will leak from them, before scabbing up. These blister outbreaks will usually heal within just a few days. However, some sufferers will find that it can take up to 2 weeks to get rid of them.
What can cause Fever Blisters?
These blisters are caused by the HSV (Herpes Simplex Virus). There are, essentially, two different types of HSV: HSV-1 and HSV-2. Herpes Simplex Virus can also effect the skin, genitals, and eyes as well, though HSV-1 is the type that usually produces cold sores. A majority of the people who contract this virus will do so before they are 10 years old, after which it remain dormant within the facial nerves until it is triggered. These triggers include: stress, cold, fever, some sort of trauma to the mouth or lips, dental procedures, and prolonged exposure to the sun.
You can catch the HS virus from touching the fever sore itself or coming in contact with the fluid that is leaked from the blister. Kissing and sharing eating utensils, as well as drinking out of the same glass, are examples of ways in which this virus is spread. It is most typically spread if there is already a preexisting cut or tear in or around the mouth or lips, whereby the virus can enter into the system with relative ease. It’s important to note that not all people who have the Herpes Simplex Virus will develop these blisters. In fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology only about 10 percent of the people who carry the virus experience cold sore or blister outbreaks.
What are the symptoms of Fever Blisters?
In order to understand the symptoms of fever blisters, it’s necessary to recognize the symptoms of HSV first, as the virus is the sole cause of the sores. Some common symptoms of HSV include: fever, headache, vomiting or nausea, as well as sores within or around the mouth. You can expect these symptoms to occur a few days after you actually contract the virus. This virus can lie dormant for quite some time, presenting absolutely no complications, until it is activated by the aforementioned triggers.
The symptoms of fever blisters include: sore throat, pain or discomfort around or within the mouth, swollen neck glands, and fever. You will usually experience a tingling or burning feeling around your mouth a couple of days before the actual outbreak. Once the sores appear, they will be red and can be quite painful. In some instances there will be a clear liquid that leak out of them which will cause a crust to form over the blisters themselves.
How to determine if you have a Fever Blister.
To determine whether or not you have a fever blister you will need to consult with your doctor in order to find out if you have contracted the HS virus. Typically, however, if you have noticed the symptoms above and have had previous issues with oral sores which exhibited the same characteristics, it is quite likely that they are fever blisters. Your doctor will usually prescribe a cream or pills to alleviate the pain associated with the condition and speed the healing process.
On the other hand, if you have only had one instance of these blisters and/or have a fever or an illness which can cause your temperatures to suddenly spike, then you may not have a fever blister. Your sores could be a result of a completely unrelated ailment. If in doubt, it’s always best to make an appointment to speak with your physician.
How to prevent Fever Blisters.
To avoid contracting the HSV in the first place, it is wise to avoid contact with those who are known to have it while they are experiencing an outbreak. However, if you already have the virus, there are medications that you can take when you are aware of encountering a possible trigger which can help to prevent you from having a blister outbreak. Also, it’s been suggested that avoiding direct, prolonged exposure to sunlight or wearing sunscreen on your lips can help to prevent fever blisters.