How to Relief Cold Sores on lip

Cold sores are not caused by common cold as most of us think. They are caused by Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 or simply HSV-1, which is passed on through contact with infected skin or body fluid. A cold sores caused by skin damage as the virus multiplies within the cells it has infected on the lip.

It starts with a warning of red, irritated skin and itchy, painful blisters which form, break down and crust over before, healing. This lasts about a week. then after the first infection, the virus enters a nerve cell and travels up until it comes to a collection of nerve cells where it resides quietly in a dormant stage until it's reactivated. It then starts to multiply again and travels down the nerve to skin and causes the cold sores.

The factors that reactivate the virus include stress, sunlight, fever, hence the name 'fever blister' and hormonal changes like those that occur around your periods.

Cold sores are most contagious when the blisters are present and just after they break until the skin is completely healed and looks normal again. Some people transmit the virus through saliva even if they never get cold sores. The virus is also present on an infected person's lip, even if there is no obvious sore. This explains why many of us are infected through kisses from relatives or lovers.

Also, because HSV-1 can live in saliva, sharing personal items such as utensils or drinking glasses can also cause infection. Oral intercourse can also cause HSV-1 infection on a partners privates. Although not common, cold sores can occur on the neck, chin or nose and reappear in the same area each time for most people.

Cold Sore Relief: Even more rare is the spread of the cold sore virus to other parts of the body. This happens by touching a cold sore then touching an area of broken skin. A cold sore on the finger is called herpetic whitlow and that on the eye is called ocular herpes. It can cause blindness thus prompt treatment is needed to prevent eye damage.

If you have severe or frequent cold sore outbreaks, see your doctor. There is no cure for cold sores but there are some over-the-counter creams, tablets and gels that can relieve the burning and pain.

Some people get relief from hot or cold compresses. Certain anti-viral creams and tablets can help shorten the duration of symptoms when used at the first sign of outbreak. You cannot prevent cold sores entirely, but reducing the triggers can help. Therefore, here are ways to prevent cold sores outbreak:
  • Learn and practise stress management strategies that work for you.
  • Stay out of the sun or use sunscreen and UV-blocking lip balm.
  • Keep your immune system healthy by getting plenty of sleep and daily exercise.
  • Use caution while a sore is present: No kissing, sharing of toothbrushes, tableware or glasses.
  • Prevent self-spread by washing your hands and not touching the cold sore.

Dr. Lucy Wachuka
About the Guest Author:

Lucy Wachuka is a registered clinical officer (Reg. number 2126). She is an ENT specialist and she enjoys what she does. You can keep in touch with her via Email


  1. This is very helpful. I have been having a lot of problems trying to figure out how to treat cold sores .

  2. The sores are caused by the herpes simplex viruses; the most common cause of sores around the mouth is herpes simplex type 1, or HSV-1. Much less commonly, cold sores may be caused by HSV-2 (herpes simplex type 2), which may result from having oral sex with a person who has genital herpes.
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  3. A cold sore is not welcome on your face, or anywhere else, for that matter. Not only are they cosmetically unappealing, they can be downright painful. Let’s get over the fact they’re caused by the herpes virus. We all know it, and that aspect gets far too much attention. Defining cold sores simply for what they are, they are small, fluid filled lesions that pop up generally on or around your lips. The blisters often group together, and after they break, a crust forms over the resulting sore. There is no true cure for the virus, or the cold sores.
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  4. Cold sores (a cold sore), also known as fever blisters, are small sores, or blister-like lesions on the face or inside the mouth. They usually cause pain, a burning sensation, or itching before they burst and crust over. Most commonly, cold sores appear on the lips, chin, cheeks, inside the nostrils, and less frequently on the gums or the palate (roof of the mouth).
    What Is A Cold sore

  5. Cold sores camera.gif , sometimes called fever blisters, are groups of small blisters on the lip and around the mouth. The skin around the blisters is often red, swollen, and sore. The blisters may break open, leak a clear fluid, and then scab over after a few days. They usually heal in several days to 2 weeks.
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