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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. Episodes of the cold sores last no longer than 2 weeks. Hot sun, cold wind, a cold or other illness, or a weak immune system can cause an outbreak of herpes simplex virus.
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 to heal. The first time they appear, they can take up to 3 weeks to heal. But, when cold sores return, they usually take a week to heal if no medicines are used. Antiviral medications may help, but they need to be started before day 3 or 4 of the blister formation. Antivirals are usually not recommended for otherwise healthy people. Always consult your health care provider or dentist if the sore does not heal or becomes worse as time passes.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your health care provider:
Bayhealth is Southern Delaware’s healthcare leader with hospitals in Dover and in Milford. Bayhealth provides a wide range of medical services, including cardiovascular, cancer, orthopaedics and rehabilitation, pediatrics, respiratory care, sleep care, surgical weight loss and women’s services.