Introduction to cold sores
Cold sores are lesions that appear around the mouth, usually around the lips, and they are a very common problem for many people, sometimes even chronic.
Sometimes people refer to cold sores as fever blisters, and they can be fairly painful and can last for about a week.
Cold sores are caused by viruses and the body is usually unable to eliminate these viruses from the system completely, which is why cold sores can re-occur
The main cause of cold sores is the herpes simplex virus, of which there are two kinds, though cold sores usually result from Type 1.
This type affects the body above the waistline, while Type 2 is usually referred to as genital herpes.
Even though most viral infections are caused by germ exposure, this is not the case with the herpes simplex virus.
These germs are already in the body and they are reactivated upon contact with the virus.
Initial contact does not cause the immediate formation of a cold sore, so there is no way to detect an infection immediately.
First, the person might experience other symptoms, such as a fever, headache and trouble swallowing.
A day or two after these symptoms, there will be pain felt around the mouth area and the gums can become inflamed as well.
The blister will not appear until the third day of infection usually. This blister will then probably pop, but in the meantime, the person will feel pain and discomfort around the mouth and will probably have trouble breathing.
The sores will heal, but the infection can spread. Since the virus remains in the body, it is possible that the sores will develop again.
After the sore heals, the virus goes back up the nerve and rests. It can become activated again at any time, and then travel down the nerve again and create another cold sore.
Since the virus tends to travel up and down the same pathway, this is why they usually always occur in almost identical areas around the mouth.
Doctors do not really fully understand why the virus wakes up every now and then, but there are things that people know will trigger this occurrence.
Some of these things include sunshine, wind, general skin damage, stress and emotional tension, physical stress and illness of another nature, serious dental work like having a tooth removed, or even menstruation in women.