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What are cold sores?
Cold sores (also called fever blisters) are blisters that form on and around the lips. You might get one or they can form together in groups. As well as not looking great, they’re often extremely itchy.
Cold sores are caused by a herpes virus that infects the skin around the mouth. Most of the time the virus is dormant, and there are no signs it’s there, but every now and again the virus wakes up. And that’s when you get a new outbreak of blisters.
WHAT CAUSES COLD SORES?
Cold sores are caused by an infection of a herpes simplex virus (HSV).
There are different types of HSV, and the one that most often causes cold sores is called HSV-1, although the HSV-2 virus, which usually causes genital herpes, can also cause cold sores if it infects the skin around the mouth.
Both of the herpes viruses are highly contagious, and they usually infect people through skin-to-skin contact, such as kissing someone with cold sores. Once the virus is on someone’s skin, it can enter their body through an opening, like their mouth, and once inside it sets up residence in their cells. The virus copies itself and spreads through the infected area, causing the blisters to form on the skin.
Your immune system fights the virus around the outbreaks, and eventually the blisters will clear up, but the virus isn’t eradicated entirely. It gets into the nerve cells in the skin around the infected area and it goes dormant, effectively hiding from the immune system and any treatments. It stays there for life, and it reactivates now and again, causing a fresh outbreak of blisters. Outbreaks can be triggered by:
- Another infection
- Reduced immune defenses
- Changes in hormones
How to treat cold sores?
Beat your cold sores with our medically proven range of cold sores treatments. Simply get started with our online consultation and our licensed doctors will review your order and create your personalised plan if medically approved. We will have your prescription home-delivered to get you back in the game in no time at all.
Signs and Symptoms of Cold Sores
The signs and symptoms of cold sores often happen in four main stages:
STAGE 1– SKIN TINGLING
You’ll likely feel a tingling of the skin a couple of days before the first cold sores appear. Sometimes you might feel itching, burning, or even shooting pains.
STAGE 2 – BLISTERS
Hard, painful spots appear, and these develop into small blisters filled with a clear fluid. They usually form around the edge of the lips and on the skin close to the mouth, but they can also appear around the nose, on the cheeks, on the lips themselves, and in the mouth. The blisters usually itch, they can be painful, and the area around them sometimes swells up too.
STAGE 3 – LEAKING AND CRUSTING OVER
The blisters usually burst with the fluid inside oozing out. This can dry and form a hard crust over the affected area.
STAGE 4 – ALL CLEAR
Over time the infection is cleared from the skin and the blisters heal. No scaring is usually left, or any other sign, although the virus will still be dormant in the skin.
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Cold sores are small blisters caused by an infection of a herpes simplex virus (HSV), that form on and around the lips. The blisters can form individually, or they can cluster together. They are often filled with a clear fluid, and they can bust and crust over to create an area of dry, hard, and itchy skin.
You get cold sores by catching a herpes simplex virus from someone else. The virus usually spreads through skin-to-skin contact, entering the body through a convenient opening, such as a cut or via the mouth. It can also be passed in bodily fluids such as saliva and semen.
This means you can catch cold sores by kissing someone who has an outbreak of blisters, by having oral sex with someone who has genital herpes, and by having sex with someone who has a herpes infection.
It’s easy for the virus to be passed by touch. You could touch someone’s blisters and then your own face. If you have blisters elsewhere on your body, such as on your genitals, you can potentially pass the virus onto your face through touch.
If a partner has cold sores or genital herpes, or you do yourself, it’s important to wash your hands often with antibacterial handwash and avoid touching your face as much as you can.
Cold sores usually last for around one to two weeks. Outbreaks do differ with more severe outbreaks usually taking longer to heal. Healing times also vary between people. The first outbreak is often the worst and lasts the longest, with outbreaks tending to become less severe over time, usually clearing up faster.
Herpes simplex viruses are highly contagious and can be passed to others easily. The virus is most contagious when the symptoms of cold sores are felt, from the initial tingling and when the blisters are visible on the skin. Even after an outbreak has cleared up, the virus can still be transmitted to others, as it can be found in bodily fluids.
It’s best to stay away from kissing and sex until your cold sores have completely healed. If you have cold sores, it means you likely have live herpes simplex virus on your face, and you may have it on your fingers too. The herpes viruses that cause cold sores (HSV-1 and HSV-2) can infect other areas of the body, and you could pass the infection to a partner by touching their genitals or though oral sex, giving them genital herpes, a type of sexually transmitted infection (STI).
Once you’ve been infected with a herpes virus, unfortunately it’s with you for life. Even after your first outbreak has cleared up completely, you’re still infected.
The virus takes up residence in your nerve cells and goes dormant, avoiding your immune system. There are no treatments that can remove it.
Every now and then the virus reactivates, spreading through your surrounding skin cells, causing a fresh bout of cold sores. Although there’s no cure, medication valaciclovir can help your body fight these outbreaks, reducing their severity and even their frequency.
The best way to avoid getting cold sores is to not contract herpes. As the virus is widespread and contagious, this may be easier said than done, but you can try the following to give yourself a fighting chance:
- Don’t kiss anyone with cold sores
- Don’t have sex with anyone who has genital herpes
- Wash your hands regularly with antibacterial hand wash if you’re around someone who has an outbreak of cold sores or genital herpes
If you do contract the herpes virus and it starts to show on your face in the form of cold sores, there are no sure-fire ways to stop future outbreaks, but the following can help:
- Valaciclovir can be taken to prevent further outbreaks, although it is not guaranteed that outbreaks won’t happen again
- Try to minimise stress in your life
- Sleep well and try to avoid becoming over-tired
- Use lip balm and sunscreen when out in bright sunlight
You can order the prescription medication valacyclovir directly from us. You don’t need to wait for an appointment with your doctor, simply start an online consultation with us today. Just let us know your medical history and symptoms, and if approved by our doctors, you’ll receive a treatment plan within 2 hours. Your medication will be shipped for free to your door. It’s simple and fast.
Yes, FROM MARS ships all medication discreetly.
Flu-like symptoms can also accompany an outbreak of cold sore blisters, especially when they occur for the first time. These symptoms include:
- Muscle pain
- Swollen glands
Like any infection, the signs and symptoms of cold sores can vary by person, and not everyone will experience the same ones. Cold sores can reappear at any time, but often the first outbreak is the worst. Over time outbreaks usually become less frequent and less severe.
HOW DO OUR
COLD SORE TREATMENTS WORK?
You can buy valacyclovir (also known as the brand name Valtrex) online from us if approved for a prescription. Valacyclovir is the active ingredient in Valtrex. It is an antiviral medication in the form of oral pills. FROM MARS provides valacyclovir as a daily suppressive treatment for patients who have already been diagnosed with herpes, to help lessen the frequency of outbreaks and reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to their partner. Valacyclovir fights herpes simplex infections by stopping the virus from copying itself, slowing the spread of the virus through the skin cells and helping the immune system to clear the infection faster. It also reduces the severity of outbreaks, help to clear them up quicker, and reduces any pain and itching that accompanies the sores. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for herpes infections, but valacyclovir is a medically proven way to manage outbreaks of cold sores.