Do you often get small sores on your lip? This is what is known as a fever or cold sore, a very common infection that manifests itself as small painful blisters in the mouth.
In this week's post we tell you everything you need to know about cold sores.
What is a cold sore and how is it spread?
The cold sore is the outward manifestation of an infection caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 or HSV-1, and usually get during childhood or before age 20 years.
After the first infection occurs, the virus becomes inactive in the nervous tissues and then reactivates on certain occasions and produces new lesions, which explains the recurrence of herpes.
It is estimated that 67% of the population carries the virus. However, this does not mean that all people get a sore on the lip, since many of them are infected and carry the virus without ever having symptoms.
How does it spread?
HSV-1 is easily spread through fluid in lip blisters or saliva, even in people who do not have an active infection at the time. This facilitates its spread:
· By using an item that may have been in contact with someone else's herpes: towels, glasses, cosmetics, toiletries, etc.
· Through saliva particles in the air: coughing, sneezing ...
· By having personal or intimate contact with an infected person.
Cold sore symptoms
Symptoms can appear between two and fourteen days after first coming into contact with the virus, and can last up to three weeks, being generally less intense when they appear the following times.
It is common for the infection by this virus to be asymptomatic or produce mild manifestations that go unnoticed. Some people develop mouth ulcers when they come into contact with the virus, while others have no signs.
Before the appearance of the sore, infected people feel a sensation of tingling, itching or burning in the area. In addition, a sore throat and swallowing difficulties, fever and / or inflammation of the local lymph nodes.
When the virus manifests itself externally, it does so in the form of a blister, covered with a clear, almost transparent liquid, which can turn more yellowish the closer they are to breaking.
Once the blisters break, they release fluid and a scab forms over the remaining wound. This wound usually heals after a few days and usually disappears completely a few weeks later without leaving a scar.
Factors that trigger a cold sore
The cause that this infection reappears from time to time is due to the fact that the virus falls “asleep” in the nerve cells of the skin of the face and, when the conditions that favor the infection occur, it reactivates and the cycle of new.
Some circumstances that may favor it is:
· An infectious process (for example, a cold).
· The menstruation.
· Episodes of fever.
· Prolonged exposure to the sun without proper protection.
· Hormonal changes, such as pregnancy.
· Mild skin problems on the lip, such as dryness or cracks.
· The stress, fatigue and anxiety.
Do you have treatment?
Cold sores can be relieved by antiviral medications and dressings, which will help protect and reduce the intensity of the infection, but will not cure it.
On the other hand, it is also advisable to apply local cold to alleviate discomfort and not touch the lesions to avoid the spread of the virus, infection of the affected area or make healing difficult, and wash them with antiseptic soap so that they do not become infected and worsen. In addition, very hot drinks and spicy, salty and acidic foods should be avoided, since they can bother the wound.
If the pain is very severe, you can take an oral pain reliever, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
How to avoid the spread of cold sores
The cold sore virus is highly contagious and is passed from one person to another by direct contact. People who carry the virus can transmit it to others even if they have no visible lesions at the time.
· To prevent the spread of herpes, the recommendations are as follows:
· Do not kiss anyone while the injuries last.
· Do not share utensils, such as cutlery, straws, glasses or plates, or daily hygiene items that have been used by infected people. Thoroughly wash all utensils after use.
· It is recommended to prevent the lips from drying out, so the use of lip balms is recommended, in addition to leading a healthy lifestyle (healthy diet, rest and exercise) that prevents the defenses from diminishing and leaves the body more exposed to external infections.
· Wash your hands frequently, especially after touching the area where herpetic lesions are located or after applying drugs for their treatment.
Cold sores usually go away after two to three weeks. However, if the injuries do not improve or worsen, it is advisable to see a doctor.
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