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Cold Sores – Causes and Symptoms of Cold Sores

Cold sores are also called fever blisters, these are small groups of blisters that are often red, sore and swollen. These blisters may sometimes break open and a clear fluid leaks out, which then gets crusted and disappears after a few days. These sores occur on the edge of the mouth and the lips which is caused by an infection with the herpes simplex virus.

Causes of Cold Sores
The common causes of cold sores include:

  • Herpes simplex virus type 1 is the causative organism.
  • This is an infection that spreads from person to person.
  • Some of the common ways of spreading this infection is by sharing utensils, razors,towels and kissing.
  • A parent suffering from this sores can spread this infection to his or her child.

Common Triggers for Cold Sores
Some of the triggers that may cause cold sores include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Hormonal changes in women
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Weak immune system
  • Injury to the gums and lips
  • Dental treatment
  • Food allergies
  • Other infections like cold or influenza
  • Fatigue
  • Stress
  • Exposure to sunlight, especially to the lips
  • Fever

Complications of Cold sores
Cold sores are contagious and can pass from one person to another through skin to skin contact. There is a possibility of spreading the virus even after the skin is healed. If you are suffering from this infection, then avoid contact with infants as they have a weak immune system. Herpes simplex virus is the leading cause of blindness in the United States as this virus causes scarring of the cornea.

Symptoms
The signs and symptoms include:

  • Painful sores can be painful which makes eating, drinking and sleeping uncomfortable
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Drooling in small children
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Red and swollen blisters at the edge of the mouth and lips

When to consult your doctor?
Cold sores generally heal on their own without treatment. Consult your doctor if:

  • Pre-existing health condition that weakens your immune system
  • Symptoms are severe
  • Cold sores that do not heal even after one to two weeks
  • Frequent recurrence of cold sores
  • Severe irritation of the eyes.

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