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Cold sore in mouth


Cold Sore in Mouth Causes, Pictures, Symptoms, How to Get Rid and Treatment

Cold sores are also referred to as fever blisters. These types of blisters usually occur mostly on the areas around the mouth especially in the corners of the lips. Cold sore blisters may appear in the areas such as on the lips, chin, cheeks, in the nostril and in rare cases on the gums and roof of the mouth. They are associated with some pain, itching or a burning sensation before they burst or crust over to form open wounds.

Cold Sore in Mouth – Overview

Cold sore in mouth

Cold sores are usually caused by herpes simplex virus 1(HSV-1). These fever blisters are very contagious and children can get them by kissing, sharing utensils or food with an infected person. This condition is very common and most children including adults can be seen with these blisters. Research confirms that in the United States alone, about 50 to 80% of people suffer from oral herpes, which makes them potentially prone to cold sores attack.

Cold sores usually are not a cause for worry as they usually go away without treatment after a full course of about one week. However, you may use some home remedies to speed up the healing.

Facts you should know about cold sores

There are some of the key points that you should be aware of when it comes to cold sore in mouth. However, more details will be achieved in the main article:

  • Cold sores are tiny cluster of blisters that develop especially in the areas around the mouth
  • The main cause of cold sores is herpes simplex virus which is found in many people
  • These blisters usually clear up after a period of 7 to 10 days on their own
  • The virus is very contagious and it can be passed from one person to another through close contact
  • After contraction of the virus, it may remain inactive for some time, but may be activated by some issues such as fatigue and injury.

Cold Sore in Mouth Causes

Usually, there are two types of herpes simplex virus that can result in cold sore in mouth. These include HSV type 1 and HSV type 2. In most cases, cold sores are caused by HSV type 1. A person may contract the virus when he/ she get into contact with the person suffering from it. In most cases, you may get it by kissing an infected person, sharing utensils or food. It is confirmed that about 90% of the people in the universe carry this virus unknowingly.

Both HSV 1 and HSV 2 can result in formation of sores in genitals. Therefore, through oral sex one can get infected with the virus in the mouth. It may take as many as many as 20 days after you have contacted the virus before symptoms are revealed. After the virus has entered your body, you may develop cold sores in the area where the virus entered through. Two days before the blisters appear you may start feeling itchiness or sensitivity from the area where the blisters will show up.

Factors that trigger the formation of cold sores

As we said above, the HSV1 virus can enter the body and remain inactive until something unusual happens to your body, then the signs and symptoms for the infection are experienced. The following are some of the factors that may trigger the formation of cold sore in mouth:

  1. Certain foods

There are some foods that when eaten they may cause allergic reaction inside the mouth. Most of these foods are those that are rich in excess acids such as citrus fruits and vegetables. As they cause allergy in the mouth, this may cause the dormant HSV 1 virus in the mouth to become active and therefore cause development of fever blisters. This is why some people may confuse cold sores as to be allergy.

  1. Stress

Stress can cause a lot of issues to your well-being, and apart from triggering cold sores they can also result in canker sores. Stress usually affects the hormonal levels in the body and therefore this may result to numerous kinds of issues to the affected person.

  1. Fever

Cold sore in mouth is mostly associated with fever. It has not been explained clearly why they mostly appear with fever, but some resources consider fever to be one of the major symptoms of cold sores. However, fever is just one of the triggers of this condition which is mainly caused by herpes simplex virus 1.

  1. Cold

Cold sores are considered as well to be one of the symptoms of colds thus the name “cold sores”. However, cold is a condition that makes the underlying cause for cold sores to be aggravated and therefore it should not be considered as the reason for cold sores appearance.

  1. Sunburn

Stay too much on the sun could activate the dormant organisms in your body to become active. This is because, when you stay on the sun, the movement of blood in the body is high and therefore this makes germs that were not active to become active. That is why you may start to see fever blisters on your mouth after staying too much on the sun.

  1. Menstrual periods

Just as stress affects the level of hormonal activities in the body, during menstruation women usually undergo the same changes. Therefore, it is likely that a woman may develop cold sore in mouth during this period as well.

  1. An injury to the lips

Trauma or injuries more so to the areas around the lips may trigger the formation of cold sores. This is because when you get an injury the movement of fluids to and from the affected is unusual and this may cause the herpes simplex virus that were lying harmless in the body to take advantage.

  1. Allergy

You can develop allergy from the environment or from the foods and medications, or even cosmetics that you use on your lips. Find out what is causing you allergy and if possible stop using it. Lip balms and lip sticks that you use could have been manufactured with harsh ingredients that don’t go well with you. Also, some medications are usually associated with numerous side effects on the user such as development of fever blisters on the mouth.

Cold sore in mouth is very normal and should not be a cause of panic. They usually burst after two to three days to release a colorless fluid, and then start drying up. With a period of seven to ten days they condition will have cleared without medical intervention. In some cases, if symptoms are severe, you may have to find the best treatment that may help you to alleviate pain and itchiness.

Symptoms of Cold Sore in Mouth

Usually, herpes simplex virus exists in our body in a harmless state without our knowledge until something triggers it to cause an infection. In this case, you will not experience any symptoms. However, after an infection has occurred, that is the time you will start experiencing other symptoms apart from the cold sore in mouth. At the beginning when fever blisters appear as part of the primary infection, the condition may be a bit severe.

After the primary infection, cold sores are considered to be a symptom of HSV 1 and HSV 2. They are usually the main sign that a person is having these viruses in the body. In most cases, there are no other signs that are associated with herpes simplex virus infection.

However, in severe cases, cold sore in mouth is more likely to affect children, as their immune system does not have enough antibodies to make them defensive to such infections. And therefore, other symptoms associated with cold sores may include:

  • Lesions, ulceration r blisters on the tongue and around the mouth
  • Pain and itchiness of the tongue and mouth
  • Sore throat
  • Difficult when it comes to swallowing
  • Nausea
  • A burning sensation on the target area
  • Fever or change in body temperature
  • Dehydration
  • Headaches
  • Swollen glands under lower jaw and behind ears

Other infections may take as well take advantage of the weakened immune system such as gingivostomatitis which affects the mouth and gums. It may take one to two weeks and it does not recur. Also, another condition known as pharyngotonsilitis may take place in the throat area specifically on the tonsils, if the primary infection is targeting adults.

What does a Cold Sore Look Like?

In most cases, cold sores usually appear as a cluster or group of blisters that are fluid filled. The blisters are normally the color of the skin and rarely as they whitish in nature. The blisters in most cases form on the corners of the mouth but they may as well occur at any point on your lips, in the mouth on gums, on the chin, and even on the roof of mouth. The appearance may as well depend on the stage at which cold sores are in mouth.

The following are some of the stages that cold sores undergoes to cover their full course of around seven to ten days:

  • First stage- here, a tingling, itchy or burning sensation occurs on the specific area around the mouth where the cold sores will develop. Thereafter, fluid-filled sac –like blister form in most cases on the edges on the lips. Gland may start to swell at this stage as well.
  • The sores usually appear in the same area each time. Pain and irritation may begin to develop alongside with cold sore in mouth.
  • Stage two- here the sore may break to release a colorless fluid. In rare cases will the fluid be pus since at this stage the infection is not intense.
  • Stage three- a yellow crust may appear on top of the sores and then scabs off to open the pink skin that will then heal without scarring.

As we said above, cold sores usually heal after a period of 7 to 10 days. If they happen to stay for long, then there may be a secondary infection that has taken place which should be addressed in the doctor’s office.

When are cold sores contagious?

From the tie you start feeling pain and itchiness from the targeted area, the virus is likely to be present and it can spread if the conditions that promote the spreading are there. You are more contagious when the blisters appear and more so if they burst. However, after the skin has completely healed and you look normal again, you cannot spread the virus someone else. Also, you have to be careful as you can pass the virus through saliva even if you don’t have cold sore in mouth.

Cold Sore in Mouth Pictures

Cold sores are very common and their appearance usually unique if compared to other kinds of blisters that appear in the mouth area. As we said above, they are usually in cluster which in most cases form on the corners of the lower lip. They may then burst to form a yellow crust on top. They then scab to heal after few days. However, we have provided you with pictures that will help you know their appearance at different areas in the mouth.

How to Get Rid of Cold Sore in Mouth

Cold sores are usually associated with a lot of pain and itchiness. You may feel like you want to scratch the area of which you shouldn’t, as it may cause other more infections to arise in the area. There are numerous home remedies that can help alleviate pain and speed up the heal from cold sores. Here are numerous ways you can use to get rid of cold sores fast:

Home remedies for cold sore in mouth

  1. Cold compress

This may help to reduce pain from the cold sores and also reduce the swelling and redness from the area. Holding a cool compress on the area can also lessen the crusty and help them to heal more quickly. You simply have to deep a soft clean cloth in cool water and compress it on the affect area for few minutes. You may do this thrice in a day as cool water does not have side effect.

  1. Peppermint essential oil

Peppermint is known to contain antiviral agents which make it great when it comes to dealing with germs causing this infection. The oil is very rich in viral-acidal activity which can be used against HSV 1 and HSV 2. Peppermint essential oil is very effective during the first stages of cold sores symptoms. Just apply the oil on the affected area twice in a day immediately you start feeling symptoms that are associated with this condition.

  1. Aloe Vera gel

Aloe Vera is greatly used for the treatment of skin ailments and cold sores aren’t excluded. It contains antioxidant vitamins, enzymes, fatty acids, minerals and hormones that can help the healing or the sores ad can as well prevent further infections. You may use the remedy on the affected area at least three times in a day to speed up the healing and reduce discomfort.

  1. Use sunscreen

We have found that direct sunlight is harmful to the skin and it is one of the reasons why people develop cold sore in mouth as we stated above. Therefore, the use of sunscreen may reduce the intensity of the sun to the skin and therefore reduce the chances of developing cold sores due to exposure to sunlight. Make sure you apply sunscreen on the lips throughout the day if you are going to spend your day outdoor.

  1. Eat immune boosting foods

Cold sores usually may recur frequently to people with weak immune system. For that case you have to take foods rich in high nutrients such as vitamin C, zinc and folic acid. Probiotic foods such as yogurt, apple cider vinegar, kimchi and sauerkraut may help to boost your immune naturally. Also make sure you take a lot of vegetables as they supply you with vitamins, minerals and nutrients.

In addition to home remedies, you may try to avoid the following things that may lead to the spread of cold sore in mouth:

  • Avoid kissing anyone
  • Avoid sharing eating utensils and foods
  • Don’t have oral sex if you are not sure of the health status of your partner.

Cold Sore in Mouth Treatment

Usually, your medical provider will be able to recognize cold sores by physical examination. There is no special diagnosis for cold sores unless there is a secondary infection. In some cases, the doctor may swab from the blister with a cotton ball and sent it to the lab to confirm that it is herpes simplex virus infection.

Some ointments and antiviral medications may help to shorten the outbreaks duration and reduce pain and discomfort.

Use of antiviral drugs

Over the counter antiviral creams for cold sore can help to reduce the period of a recurrent infection. These creams are only effective if applied as soon as the symptoms appear and tingling that signify the onset of a cold sore.


More references

  1. Everything you need to know about cold sores:
  2. What are cold sores:
  3. Cold sores / oral herpes:
  4. How to get rid of cold sores:
  5. How to get rid of cold sores fast:

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