Cold sores are small blisters around the mouth, caused by the herpes simplex virus. They are sometimes called fever blisters. The most common strain of the virus causing cold sores is herpes simplex virus 1. It can be spread by kissing or sharing eating utensils or even sharing towels.
Herpes simplex is not curable, but may lie dormant for a long time.
Some people don’t have any symptoms with the first attack. Others have flu-like symptoms and ulcers in and around the mouth. While each person may experience symptoms differently, these are the most common:
Cold sores can’t be cured, but, if symptoms are severe, treatment may help relieve some symptoms. Treatment may include:
Cold sores take about 1 to 3 weeks to heal. The first time they appear, they can take up to 3 weeks to heal. But, when cold sores return, they usually are less severe and take a week to heal if no medicines are used. Antiviral medicines may help, but work best if begun with initial symptoms before a blister even appears. Antivirals are usually not recommended for otherwise healthy people. Always talk your healthcare provider or dentist if the sore does not heal or becomes worse as time passes.
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