How long do cold sores last? Get insights on how the outbreak of this infection last on the mouth, lips and tongue. You will also learn more on how it is spread from infected person to others and how it is distinguished from pimples.
How Long Do Cold Sores Last
Cold sores are also known as fever blisters. They are caused by herpes simplex virus, its outbreak causes small, painful and fluid filled sores to erupt on the edges of mouth, lips, nostril, cheeks, and chin and sometimes around the genital areas. The sores ruptures to ooze, forms crusting and eventually they disappears without scarring.
There are two types of herpes simplex virus known as type 1 and 2. HSV-1 is most common and it causes formation of blisters around the various parts of the face. It is easily spread through body contact with active blisters or through kissing. The HSV-2 cause painful sore around the genitals.
When you get infected with the virus, they travel into your nerves and become dormant, they may reactivate any time and cause an outbreak. The cold sores normally lasts between 8 to 10 days without treatment while a severe outbreak may take up to 2 weeks to heal completely.
However, there are various remedies and treatment that can be used on . For instance placing a cold ice over the sore or using anti-viral medicines may make the blisters to last between 5 to seven days. After the outbreak of this infection, each day comes with its adventure. You need to be ready and patience enough to undergo through the five stages of cold sore outbreak.
When you contract herpes simplex virus, they travel and hide into the nerves and it may not cause an outbreak immediately. Most people who get an outbreak in their adulthood may have contacted the virus during the childhood. There is possibility that the virus can also remain dormant forever in your life.
In some people, the virus may be active once a while or cause a recurrence several times once they are triggered. To make you understand better on what is a cold sore and how long it last, this article explores more on the various outbreak stages of this infection as follows:
- First stage: Tingling
Once the herpes simplex virus reactivates, you will start by experiencing tingling, itching and burning sensation on the lips, mouth nostril and other affected parts of your body. This are the initial signs that appears from day 1 to 2 of the outbreak. The affected areas may also become red and swollen. According to
- Second stage: Eruption of blisters
Formation of blisters starts on day 2 to 4. The eruption of blisters may occur in a cluster of small blisters on the affected areas or one large blister that is filled with a clear fluid known as serum.
- Third stage: Weeping
This is also known as ulcer stage and it is the most painful. In this stage, the blisters ruptures to ooze a highly contagious pus due to production of white cell and antibodies that helps in fighting back this infection. This is the most contagious stage of herpes simplex virus. The sore turns to greyish after leaking.
- Fourth stage: Crusting
In this stage, the healing process starts by forming a scab. A yellow crusting starts to form over the sores on day 5 to 8. As the scab dries and shrinks, it develops cracks that may cause some bleeding, itching and a burning sensation on the affected areas. You need to be very careful during this stage, the sores can get a bacterial infection that may delay the healing process hence delaying duration on how long do cold sores last.
- Fifth stage: Healing
From day 8 to 10, the healing process of the cold sores start. The scab starts to shed off and a new and small scab forms on the spots. The sore finally heals without leaving scarring on the affected areas.
Are Cold Sores Contagious?
Cold sores are highly contagious infection that easily spreads from a person who has active infection to others. They are most contagious during the blistering stage especially when the sores ruptures to ooze a fluid that contain millions of herpes simplex virus. This does not mean that they are only contagious during blister stage.
Immediately you start showing the first symptoms such are tingling, itching and a burning sensation on the affected parts, you are capable of spreading the infection to others. Crusting of the sores does not mean that you are no longer contagious. The scab can crack and ooze a fluid that contain herpes simplex virus that is an answer to . According to .
It is spread through the following means:
- Kissing – cold sores are commonly spread through direct body contact. When you are having cold sore outbreak, avoid kissing your beloved ones and friends especially on the lips. You can easily spread the infection. Though it is not common but this infection can also affect any other part of the body that comes in contact with the virus.
- Sharing of utensils and other objects – sharing of utensils such as glasses, straws and cups can easily carry the virus from infected person direct to the lips of the other person. Other objects such as razors and towels may also harbor the virus that causes cold sores
- Touch – when you touch the blisters, you may carry the virus to other people through handshakes. You can also spread the infection to other parts of your body such as the genitals. In case should you pop a blister or help in oozing, ensure that you wash your hands thoroughly using a running water and soap.
After contacting the virus, you may take 5 to 7 days before the outbreak. The duration on how long do cold sores last will depend on medication and other remedies that you may employ to alleviate the pain and the discomfort of the sores. Without treatment, the outbreak normally lasts between 8 to 10 days.
Cold Sore or Pimple
Both a cold sore and a pimple usually starts with a small bump or eruption on the edge of mouth, lips, chin or lips. It is difficult to differentiate between the two in their initial stages especially if it is your first experience of cold sores. In most cases cold sore or pimple on lip line usually brings a confusion.
A cold sore and a pimple have two different causes. Cold sore is caused by herpes simplex virus 1 that is spread from a person who has active outbreak to others through direct body contact, kissing, sharing of utensils, touching and through other sharp objects. While on the other hand pimples are caused by bacterial infection from clogging of pores by excessive production of sebum and dead skin cells. According to
The first outbreak of cold sores is accompanied with other symptoms that will help you to differentiate it from pimples. Such symptoms includes fever, muscles aches, sore throat, painful gums, blisters in the mouth and sometimes swollen lymph nodes. This symptoms are experienced on the first outbreak in most cases than when it recurs.
You may also differentiate cold sore and pimple by keenly observing the predictive signs of the subsequent outbreak of fever blisters. Such signs includes the numbness, inflammation, redness and hypersensitivity of the tissues on the exact areas where the cold sore will erupt. The duration on how long do cold sores last also differs from that one of a pimple.
Cold Sore on Lip
Cold sores are highly contagious. Cold sores on the lips are spread through kissing or sharing of utensils with a person who has active infection. After one week of infection, you may start to experience tingling, itching and a burning sensation on the lips.
A few days later, an eruption of small cluster of blisters or one and large fluid filled blister erupts on the lip line. There are various cold sore remedies that you can use to reduce the pain and the discomfort caused by the blisters on the lips. A cold ice is an effective remedy on on the lip fast. It helps in relieving the pain as well as fastening the healing process within 7 days.
Avoid picking on the sores, contaminated hands may cause a bacterial infection on the sores that may delay the healing process. You may also spread the infection to other parts of your body. Wash your hand well before and after touching the sores.
Cold Sore in Mouth
Cold sores in the mouth causes a lot of pain especially when eating, drinking or during brushing. Its outbreak causes swelling, redness and a burning sensation of the gums. Although there is no cure for cold sores, there is antiviral medicines that you can take to reduce the severity and recurrences of this infection.
You may be asking yourself, how long do cold sores last in the mouth? It takes 8 to10 days to heal on its own just like any other part of your body that may be affected. When the sores are treated they may last for 7 days only.
Cold Sore on Tongue
The herpes simplex lesions normally last a week to 10 day on the tongue. It causes eruption of fluid filled sores under the tongue and on the tip that weeps a fluid that contain viruses. The virus travels back to the nerves and deactivates. After a several month, they can be triggered by different factors to cause a recurrence of the outbreak.
Factors that triggers reactivation of herpes simplex virus includes weak immune system, stress, high sun intensity, extreme temperatures or fever, tiredness and fatigue, menstruation in women and allergic reactions. Visit your doctor for medication that helps to prevent the recurrences of cold sore outbreak. You may also employ prevention measures to avoid contacting this infection.