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5 Stages of Cold Sores and Treatment for Each One

Cold sores, known as fever blisters, are often present on lips and around the mouth. While HSV1 is the main cause of a cold sore infection, HSV2 is sometimes responsible for it. This infection is too common that more than half of the population has. Even after a cold sore has healed, the virus stays in the body. It means that once you’ve had a cold sore, you’re more likely to get another one at some point. In addition, the first cold sore outbreak is always more severe than other. Although fever blisters are harmless and can be healed within several weeks, they’re highly contagious. There’re 5 stages of cold sores you should notice and it’s also important to seek treatment for each stage.

How Do You Get Cold Sores?

More than 50% of Americans between the age 14 and 49 carry the virus. But most of them don’t know they’ve had it because of invisible symptoms. While cold sores are a highly contagious infection, lack of awareness of herpes spreading increases your risk of getting it. Here’re several ways you can get a cold sore:

  • Direct contact. If you come in contact with affected skin, such as oral sex, touching blisters, HSV can be passed on. Besides, HSV can be spread from one place to other parts of the body through your hands
  • Kissing. It’s easy to contract cold sores from kissing someone who has this infection. Parents with fever blisters should avoid kissing their baby. Cold sores can be more dangerous for infants who have weakened immune system.
  • Sharing things. This virus can survive a short time outside the body. That’s why you should avoid sharing lip balms, towels, razors and eating utensils.

Related: Why Do People Often Get Cold Sores When They’re Sick

Cold sores can be spread through kissing

Cold sores can be spread through kissing

5 Stages of Cold Sores and Treatment for Each One

Commonly, a cold sore has 5 stages and usually takes 7-12 days to properly go away. They include the tingling, blister, ulcer, crusting and healing stages. Understanding cold sore stages helps you relieve anxiety and seek suitable treatment for each one.

  1. Tingling Stage

This is known as prodromal stage. During the stage, you’ll notice a tingling sensation around the infected skin area. Some spots also appear, they start to swell, redden and feel sensitive to touch. Tingling stage often lasts from one to two days.

Treatment for this stage

It’s important to seek treatment for this early stage as this helps prevent the virus from becoming severity. You can try to apply tea tree oil. The remedy is rich in anti- inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal properties, which eliminates the virus become active. Dilute it with water and directly apply two to three times a day on the affected area. Aloe vera gel is also applied to ease tingling sensation and reduce the severity of cold sores.

In addition, there’re some OTC and prescription topical creams you can try. ProsurX is one of the best creams for cold sores. The sooner you apply it, the faster HSV is removed. ProsurX contains powerful antiviral ingredients approved by the FDA, so it has no side effects. The cream helps kill the virus both on the skin’s surface and in lower skin layers. For that reason, it’s difficult for HSV from returning. Moreover, ProsurX is effective in treating genital herpes.

Related: What Are Herpes Treatments for Each Stage?

Tingling sensation is the first satge of a cold sore

Tingling sensation is the first satge of a cold sore

  1. Blister Stage

After 24- 48 hours of the first stage, the affected area break out a cluster of blisters. These blisters begin to fill with fluid that is very contagious because it carries the HSV. When blisters burst, they produce the contagious fluid to other parts of the body and other people. Thus, you should wash your hands often and avoid kissing people during the second stage. Keeping sour, spicy and salty foods at bay if they irritate your condition and cause discomfort.

Treatment for blister stage

Natural ointments are a wise choice for this stage. These help prevent the virus from spreading and reduce the severity of this outbreak. You can still apply Prosurx and other natural ointments. Painkillers can be used to ease pain feelings. Besides, make sure that you’re well- hydrated during blister stage.

Blisters stage is the  one of  the five stages of a cold sore

Blisters stage is the one of the five stages of a cold sore

  1. Ulcer Stage

The cold sore will break open around four or five day, and an ulcer forms. The area around it becomes redden and swells. This is the most severe and contagious stage, so avoid touching the ulcer because you can transmit the virus.

Treatment for ulcer stage

To relieve pain and discomfort during this stage, you should use a cold compress or a warm on affected area. Also, should eat more lysine foods, increase vegetable intake as well as reduce stress. Take more rest and get enough sleep.

Related: 5 Skin Conditions That Can Be Mistaken for Cold Sores

An ulcer forms after cold sores break out

An ulcer forms after cold sores break out

  1. Crusting Stage

A dry crust will appear over the sore on days five and eight to heal them. The affected area may feel itchy and burning as it begins to heal. If you’re not careful, this’s also the time for new cold sores start forming.

Treatment for this stage

You should apply a moisturizer or aloe vera gel to prevent the scab from cracking. Besides, putting a warm or cold compress on this area is a good way.

Crusting Stage

Crusting Stage

  1. Healing Stage

Between the days eight and 10, these scabs will begin to peel off on their own. Also, the skin underneath is usually slightly red for a few days as your skin fully heals. A cold sore is still contagious at this point, so remember to wash your hands if you touch them.

Treatment for healing stage

 St John’s Wort oil may help to prevent scarring and boost the skin healing process faster. Besides, zinx- oxide ointment or aloe vera can be helpful.

Healing Stage

Healing Stage

Related: Prevent Cold Sores From Coming Back

There’re 5 stages of cold sores that each infected person will experience. Though a cold sore can be gone away on its own, treatment for each stage helps relieve pain, discomfort and boost the healing process. If you notice early symptoms of cold sores, should seek treatment soon.


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