ABC Medical Center > Cold sore

What is Cold sore?

21:54 - 4 May , 2021


It is a common infection caused by the herpes virus that manifests through spots composed of small blisters that form around the mouth and lips. When blisters burst, scabs appear that take time to fall off. The cold sore outbreak usually lasts less than 20 days.

It is transmitted from one person to another by direct contact, as the person may be infected before symptoms appear.

Cold sore infection, also known as fever blisters, can be due to two types of herpes:

  • Type 1: it is the most common.
  • Type 2: it is genital herpes, which can appear in the mouth when practicing oral sex.

Both can appear in the mouth or genitals through intimate contact (kissing, oral sex) or personal hygiene utensils.

We are all at risk of suffering from cold sores, in fact, most of us already have the virus even though it never manifests, but the incidence is higher when our immune system is weak due to a chronic disease or certain drugs, such as:

  • AIDS.
  • Eczema.
  • Chemotherapy.
  • Drugs to treat autoimmune conditions.

Signs and symptoms Cold sore

The symptoms vary and depend on whether it is an initial or a recurrent outbreak, which tends to be less severe each time.

  • Burning, itching, and tingling in the blisters.
  • Headache.
  • Gum discomfort.
  • Muscle pain.
  • High fever.
  • Swollen glands.
  • Sore throat
  • Discharge and scabs.

As the herpes virus is dormant and cannot be eliminated, it can resurface by:

  • Hormonal abnormalities.
  • Low immune system.
  • Tiredness.
  • Stress.
  • Fever.
  • Viral infections.
  • Skin lesions.

Diagnosis and treatment Cold sore

After analyzing your symptoms and performing the corresponding physical examination, your doctor will indicate the treatment to follow, which usually consists mainly of topical creams and ointments, although it may also indicate an oral antiviral medication.

If your infection is severe, antivirals may be administered intramuscularly.

Prompt treatment can help lessen the discomfort of blisters and other symptoms. However, once you have been infected, the virus will remain dormant in your body for life and can resurface at any time.

When the outbreaks are recurrent, your doctor will indicate the treatment that helps reduce their appearance, intensity, and duration.

If you have cold sores, it is important that you take the following preventive measures to avoid spreading it to another person or spreading the virus to other parts of the body:

  • Perform hand hygiene on an ongoing basis.
  • Refrain from kissing or having contact with other people until you have healed.
  • Don’t share personal hygiene items.

At ABC Medical Center’s Internal Medicine Department, we offer health care services with the highest quality and safety, from the prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and monitoring of infectious, respiratory, endocrinological, dermatological, rheumatic, nephrological, gastrointestinal, and hematological pathologies of both chronic-degenerative diseases and acute conditions, through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary model.


  • Guerrero Bernal, Cristian Gabriel; Tinoco Cabral, Claudia; Morales Martínez, et al. Herpesvirus: relación con la enfermedad periodontal e implicaciones orales. Rev Mex Periodontol. 2019;10(3):58-64. doi:10.35366/92124. 
  • Gamboa-Cañedo EA, Martínez-Limón FJ, Santibañez-Escobar PL, et al. Seroprevalencia de Virus Herpes Simple Tipo 1 en una muestra poblacional de la Zona Metropolitana de Guadalajara y municipios aledaños. Sal Jal. 2021;8(1):26-34.
  • Irarragorri DCA, Masó SE, Rodríguez AY, et al. Caracterización epidemiológica y clínica de pacientes con infecciones oculares causadas por herpesvirus. MediSan. 2020;24(01):42-56.
  • Barrios-Lamoth E, Dorta-Contreras AJ, Martínez-Larrarte JP, et al. Síntesis intratecal de IgG anti-herpes virus como evidencia neuroinmunológica en pacientes pediátricos. VacciMonitor. 2019;28(3):91-96.

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