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Most people need to consult a healthcare provider the first time they have cold sores. But people who have had cold sores before or who have mild symptoms do not always need treatment. Schedule a medical consultation if you need treatments to reduce symptoms, shorten the amount of time symptoms last or in need of pain-relieving pills/gels that go on the mouth.
Cold sores are painful clustered, small, fluid-filled blisters that form on or near the lips and inside the mouth caused by viral infection. Cold sores are also known as “fever blisters” and “oral herpes”.
The symptoms are different depending on whether it is the first time a person is getting cold sores. The first attack of cold sores usually happens during childhood.
The first time a person gets cold sores, the symptoms may last up to 12 days and can include:
- Painful blisters on the lips, mouth, nose, or throat, which eventually pop and form scabs
- Mouth and throat pain
- Swelling in the neck
- Fever, body aches, and feeling ill
After the first time, pain and blisters can come back, but the other symptoms do not usually happen again. Plus, the symptoms are usually milder and don’t last as long. Some people can tell when their cold sores are going to come back. They feel pain, burning, tingling, or itching on their lips about a day before blisters form.
The virus that causes cold sores is called “herpes simplex virus.” There are two types of herpes virus; Type 1 causes most cases of cold sores and Type 2 usually affects the penis or vagina. This virus spreads easily from person to person. You might have caught it from an infected person if the 2 of you shared a fork or knife, kissed, or had some other type of close contact.
People who give oral sex to people with genital herpes can get cold sores on their mouth.