Cold Sores: A Major Symptom Of Oral HerpesCold Sores: A Major Symptom Of Oral Herpes

Cold sores are tiny, blister-like lesions that develop on cheeks, lips, chin, and inside the nostrils. Less frequently, they can appear on the roof of the mouth, neck, and gums. These sores cause a burning sensation, itching, or pain before they burst. Many refer to cold sores as fever blisters. Cold sores are not a disease but a major symptom of oral herpes.

People contract oral herpes by coming in contact with infected mucous membranes, saliva, or skin. As the virus is contagious, most people are infected by at least one subtype of herpes before reaching adulthood. Though there is no way to prevent these sores, there are measures you can take to reduce the duration and frequency of outbreaks.

Common Causes Of Cold Sores

One of the most common causes of cold sores is herpes simplex virus type-1 or HSV-1. In other cases, the sores are caused due to infections from a different strain of herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). Once you get the infection, you will have the virus for the entire lifetime. It usually stays dormant but can get triggered when there is an injury or muscle fatigue.

How Are Cold Sores Diagnosed?

A physician can diagnose your cold sores by looking at them. The doctor may swab a cold sore. Fluid releasing from sores can be used to examine if you have the herpes virus or herpes simplex virus (HSV), the virus causing these sores. Blood testing is also recommended in most cases.

How Long Does It Take For The Sores To Heal?

Both cold and canker sores clear up on their own within two weeks. Some medications can help speed up recovery. If you have a mouth sore that refuses to go away after two weeks, you must see a doctor.

Stages Of Cold Sore Symptoms

Cold sores develop over stages, especially when those reoccur.

  • An itching, tingling or burning sensation around the mouth indicates an outbreak
  • Fluid-filled, painful sores appear around and sometimes inside the mouth
  • The sores produce fluid on breaking
  • A yellowish crust develops on the sores
  • The crusts come off, leaving bare pink skin that heals in about four days

Differences Between Cold And Canker Sores

One of the main differences between cold and canker sores is the location where these develop. Canker sores appear inside the mouth while cold sores appear outside.

The two types of sores are caused by different things. Cold sores are caused by viruses, and the cause of canker sores can differ from person to person. Cold sores are highly contagious while canker sores are not at all.

While canker sores last longer, both types are harmless unless you have underlying immune system issues.

Treating Cold Sores

Some treatments can ease symptoms and expedite healing, including:

  • OTC gels or creams that need to be applied four to five times a day to ease pain
  • OTC medications used to shorten the outbreak by a day
  • Prescription antiviral drugs to kill recurrent sores
  • Painkillers are recommended in cases where patients experience severe burning and/or itching


There you have it! Contact Paul Mansky Dental today!  We are located in Troy, Michigan and can be reached at (248) 689-5508 and we hope to hear from you soon!