Cold sore is a viral infection causing groups of small blisters on the lip and around the mouth. The affected area may appear red, swollen and sore and the blister usually breaks open in a few days to leak clear fluid and heal in a weeks time.
It is caused by the Herpes simplex virus which are of two types HSV-1 and HSV-2. Both virus types can cause sores around the mouth (herpes labialis) and on the genitals (genital herpes). The herpes simplex virus is highly contagious and can be easily passed from person to person by close direct contact.
After someone has contracted the virus, it remains inactive (dormant) most of the time.However, every so often the virus can be activated by certain triggers, resulting in an outbreak of cold sores. These triggers vary from person to person, but can include sunlight, fatigue, an injury to the affected area, and, in women, their period.Some people have frequently recurring cold sores around two or three times a year, while others have one cold sore and never have another.
Treatment includes antiviral medications and creams which can help ease your symptoms, speed up the healing time, reduce the viral load and the intensity of lesions. To be effective, these treatments should be taken as soon as the first signs of a cold sore appear that is when you feel a tingling, itching or burning sensation around your mouth. Antiviral treatment after this initial period is unlikely to have much of an effect.