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eMed previously Babylon Health

Herpes (Cold Sores)

Cold sores are blisters that appear around the edges of the mouth, caused by the herpes simplex virus. This skin condition is incredibly common, and can sometime cause suffers to feel anxious and embarrassed. If you’re suffering from a cold sore and would like to speak to a doctor to help manage the symptoms, get in touch with our doctors today to discuss your options.

Causes of cold sores

Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus. Once you’ve contracted the virus, it is likely to remain in your system but can be re-activated by certain triggers. When this happens, you may notice new cold sores that last from 3 days to two weeks.

Triggers that can cause cold sores to develop include:

  • Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Hormones
  • Exposure to sunlight

The herpes simplex virus is passed on through physical contact. As the virus spends much of its time inactive, it can be difficult to know if you or someone else is carrying it - and even if you do contract the virus, you may never experience a cold sore. Some people never get them at all, while others may develop multiple cold sores each year.

Symptoms of herpes

Cold sores start with a tingling sensation around the lip. Once the tingling starts, there’s little you can do to prevent the outbreak from occurring. Soon after, a blister will appear where the tingling sensation was. This blister may ooze for a few days, and it can be painful.

After a few days, the blister will start to look crusted, and a scab will start to develop over the top. This can cause pain and irritation, but it ultimately means the cold sore is healing properly.

Treatment for herpes

The herpes simplex virus cannot be cured, and once the tingling sensation starts, there’s no way to stop a cold sore from forming. Treatment for cold sores generally involves applying creams or taking antiviral tablets in order to speed up the recovery process. These treatments should be administered as early as possible in the development of a cold sore - once the blister itself has appeared, treatments are far less effective and you’ll simply need to wait it out.

In the meantime, avoid physical contact with others as much as possible, and keep your hands and face clean at all times. To speak with a GP about treating your cold sores, get in touch with us today.

The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.