Cold Sores: Causes, Symptoms and Risk Factors

Cold sores are also known as Herpes labialis and Fever blisters. Cold sores are red, fluid filled patch of blisters on the lips or around the mouth. They are highly contagious and spread through direct contact.

Cause of cold sore:-

Herpes simplex virus type-1 causes cold sore and herpes simplex virus type-2 causes genital herpes. Both are highly contagious and spread through direct contact like skin-to-skin contact, kissing, sharing clothes, and oral sex.

Incubation period and recovery time:-

Cold sore appears after 2 weeks of exposure to the virus.

Contagious period is during the infection up to several weeks even after the blisters have disappeared.

It is a lifelong infection that reactivates from time to time. After the infection the virus becomes dormant and resides into the nerves and reactivates from time to time whenever It is triggered.

Spread of infection:-

Cold sore spread through direct contact it is a sexually transmitted infection that can spread through oral sex and kissing.

It is highly contagious when there are fluid filled oozing blisters on the lips or around the mouth, so an infected person should not share his clothes, towels and should avoid skin-to-skin contact.

Signs and symptoms:-

Several days before the sore appears there is a tingling and burning sensation. Once the sore is formed there is a patch of red fluid filled blisters that ooze. There is pain and tenderness over and around the sore.

There may also be:-

  • Fever
  • Muscle pains
  • Sore throat
  • Painful gums
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Pain and irritation in the eyes:- if pain and irritation in the eyes start one should seek medical help immediately as herpes virus infection is known to cause blindness.

Risk factors:-

  • Everyone is at risk of this virus. Mostly everyone is carrying this virus but only activates in certain conditions as:-
  • Atopic Dermatitis(eczema)
  • Cancer drugs
  • Anti-rejection drugs given at time of organ transplant


Herpes simplex virus causes various kinds of troubles in various individuals.

Eyes:- repeated Herpes infection can cause injury to the eye and vision loss.

Skin:- people suffering with atopic dermatitis(eczema) have chances of widespread

infection of herpes infection.


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