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Cold Sores (Herpes Labialis)

A cold sore, also known as a fever blister, is a small blister that typically appears on or around the lips or inside the mouth. Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1 or HSV-2) and are highly contagious.

Symptoms of a cold sore may include:

  • Small, fluid-filled blisters on or around the lips or mouth

  • Pain, burning, or tingling sensation around the affected area

  • Itching or irritation

  • Swelling and redness around the affected area

  • Scabbing or crusting over the blister as it heals

Red flags that may indicate a more serious condition include:

  • Large, painful blisters

  • Blisters that spread to other parts of the face or body

  • Blisters that do not heal or continue to recur

  • Fever or other signs of infection

Treatment for cold sores typically involves antiviral medications to reduce the duration and severity of symptoms. These medications may be taken orally or applied topically. Self-care measures can also help alleviate symptoms and promote healing, including:

  • Applying a cold, damp cloth to the affected area to reduce swelling and inflammation

  • Avoiding touching or picking at the blisters, which can spread the virus and delay healing

  • Using over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to alleviate pain and discomfort

  • Applying lip balms or creams to keep the affected area moisturized and prevent cracking or bleeding

  • Using sunscreen or lip balm with sun protection to prevent future outbreaks triggered by sun exposure

If symptoms persist or worsen despite treatment, or if cold sores occur frequently or in unusual locations, it is important to consult a healthcare provider for further evaluation and management.

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