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Cold sores, which are also called fever blisters, are groups of blisters that appear on the lip and around the mouth. The blisters may break open and leak a clear fluid and then scab over. They may take up to two weeks to heal. They are caused by the herpes (HSV) virus.
Anyone who has been exposed to the virus – usually through person-to-person contact – is at risk for contracting cold sores. People with weakened immune systems are at a greater risk for contracting them, but they are highly contagious and can be passed along even to healthy individuals.
Once it is contracted, the virus can be triggered by such things as stress, sadness, menstruation and sunlight.
The symptoms of cold sores may begin as a pain near your mouth and lips; you may also have a fever, swollen glands in your neck or a sore throat. The blisters will then appear, and most often recurrences will appear in the same area as previous outbreaks.
There is no cure for cold sores, but there are ways to ease their symptoms. Topical creams or ointments, prescription antiviral medications and using over-the-counter pain relievers are all ways that can help during an outbreak.
Of course, the best way to avoid getting cold sores is to avoid contact with any individual who is infected; this means avoiding kissing or sharing any bodily fluids. Also, avoid sharing cups or eating utensils with anyone who has an active cold sore.
If you are carrying the virus, the best way to avoid an outbreak is to take good care of your physical health by eating right, exercising regularly, getting plenty of rest and finding positive ways to deal with any emotional stress you encounter.
*Results may vary by individual