Cold Sores

A cold sore is a small blister or group of blisters that usually develop on the lip or around the mouth. Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV).

If you get cold sores, you’re not alone. More than half of Americans ages 14 to 49 carry the virus that causes cold sores. The virus stays in the body after the cold sores clear. If the virus reactivates, or wakes up, you may get cold sores again.

If you have a cold sore, however, you can spread the virus to others who don’t have the virus. Even when you treat cold sores, you can still spread the virus to others. You are contagious until all the sores have scabbed over. Avoid intimate contact – such as kissing – and sharing cups, towels, razors, toothbrushes and any other objects that may have come in contact with your cold sores.

Cold sores usually heal in a few days to a couple of weeks, however prescription oral antiviral medication may be helpful for shortening the episode if taken within the first 72 hours. If you get cold sores frequently, speak with a board-certified dermatologist, as this medication may also be used for prevention.

Adapted from original source: AAD

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