About Cold Sores
A cold sore is a blister on the lips or near the mouth. This blister is usually swollen, red and inflamed, and can be painful. Other names are oral herpes, mouth herpes, or a fever blister. These lesions can appear alone or in small clusters, and when they break, a clear fluid leaks out and the blister will scab over. Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus, known as HSV, and can appear around the mouth and the genital region.
In the United States, more than 50% of women and men have oral herpes typically due to herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). A closely related herpes simplex virus, HSV-2, causes most cases of genital herpes. But either HSV-1 or HSV-2 can cause a cold sore on the mouth or genital region. Unfortunately, this condition is highly contagious and can be transmitted very easily when someone touches the infected area. Cold sores can be easily diagnosed and managed by board-certified dermatologist Dr. Reuel Aspacio at Summerlin Dermatology in Las Vegas, NV, where we can be sure that they are cleared up quickly and effectively.
"Dr. Aspacio has been terrific in treating my pre-cancerous skin condition."- R.K. / Google / Feb 09, 2020
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Cold sores are caused by the herpes virus. Once a person is infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2, the outbreak of the virus can only be managed, but not cured. It will remain within the body for life. The transmission of the HSV-1 or HSV-2 is from various sources, such as kissing, exchanging bodily fluids/saliva, touching an outbreak, sharing lipsticks or straws, sexual transmission, and other common factors. Those diagnosed with HSV-1 or 2 should communicate to their partners that they carry this virus so that they can be aware.
Some cold sores appear randomly on the skin alone or in clusters. There are many different triggers for cold sore outbreaks, such as:
- Trauma to the skin
- Food or drinks that are irritating to the skin
- Environmental factors
- Dry skin around the mouth
- Overexposure to the sun
- Poor hygiene
- Dental treatments
- Different phases of the menstrual cycle (for women)
- Fluctuations in hormones
The hallmark symptom of a cold sore is a tingling or burning sensation before the appearance of the outbreak. The classic sign of herpes is a cluster of blisters on a base of red skin. The blisters look like they filled with clear liquid and dry up rapidly and leave a scab that lasts anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the severity of the outbreak.
Cold sores usually go away on their own within a few days. However, if they are visible on the lip or near the mouth, it can be embarrassing and also painful. Summerlin Dermatology can assist to speed up the healing process by prescribing antibiotics, skin creams, and ointments. Treatment by a professional can help speed up the healing process, but often it just takes time. There are numerous over-the-counter creams which have proven to be effective as well. If you frequently get cold sores, we will discuss treatment options based on outbreak frequency and severity.
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Getting a cold sore is never fun. At Summerlin Dermatology in Las Vegas, NV, we understand you want it controlled fast and effectively. We will work with you to diagnose the condition and then make a treatment plan so that future outbreaks are kept to a minimum. Call our office to learn more and schedule your appointment with Dr. Aspacio.