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How to Know If You Are Getting a Cold Sore

by Erik Steel
  • Overview

    Cold sores, like other conditions caused by human herpes viruses, are preceded by symptoms known as prodrome, which can be used by sufferers to identify an oncoming outbreak. New sufferers of the condition will note the prodrome followed by the development of a cold sore, and so will become familiar with these symptoms. Recognizing an outbreak in its earliest stages helps people with cold sores prepare for treating the condition.
  • Recognizing Cold Sores

 
  • Step 1

    Watch for prodromal symptoms. These include a feeling of itching, burning or tingling in your lips or the surrounding area of your face before a cold sore actually appears. According to the Mayo Clinic, prodrome generally occurs between one and two days before an outbreak.
  • Step 2

    Check for the development of a red rash along with a blister. The Mayo Clinic reports that these blisters are filled with a fluid that is eventually released when the blister breaks open, forming a crust.
  • Step 3

    Monitor your symptoms. Cold sores normally last for about a week and then go away on their own. The development of a cold sore does not normally lead to scarring.
  • 2
  • If you are on antiviral medication for the management of cold sores, begin treatment once you recognize prodromal symptoms. Take steps to protect yourself and others once you recognize cold sores. Avoid kissing and other contact that brings people into direct contact with sores, and do not share articles that have touched your sores. Wash your hands after touching your own cold sores to avoid spreading the infection to other parts of your body.
  • If you are on antiviral medication for the management of cold sores, begin treatment once you recognize prodromal symptoms.
  • Take steps to protect yourself and others once you recognize cold sores. Avoid kissing and other contact that brings people into direct contact with sores, and do not share articles that have touched your sores. Wash your hands after touching your own cold sores to avoid spreading the infection to other parts of your body.
  • Do not confuse cold sores with canker sores; the most noticeable difference is that canker sores occur within the mouth, while most cold sores occur outside the mouth. If you are unsure, your doctor can help diagnose the condition.
  • Do not confuse cold sores with canker sores; the most noticeable difference is that canker sores occur within the mouth, while most cold sores occur outside the mouth. If you are unsure, your doctor can help diagnose the condition.

References & Resources