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A fever blister and a cold sore–blisters on the lip–are actually terms for the exact same thing. They are painful blisters that are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Specifically they’re cause by herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV1). HSV-1 and HSV-2 should not be confused. HSV-2 is generally associated with genital herpes. HSV-1 sores can be called fever blisters, oral herpes, or cold sores.
Fever blisters are not new. In ancient Rome, an epidemic of fever blisters pushed Emperor Tiberius to ban kissing in public ceremonies. Fever blisters appear as clusters of red, raised blisters on the outside of the mouth, as the result of the viral infection. They often form around the lips. Yet, they can also form under the nose, under the chin, inside the mouth, and even near the eyes. Cold sores forming inside the mouth is more common with weak immune systems.
Cold sores can be painful, lower self esteem, and make it hard to express any affection involving skin contact. They can look fairly similar to a pimple on your mouth and are often quite big in size. When they begin to heal, they will crust over and may look yellow more than red. It is not shocking many people are looking for quick fixes to get rid of their fever blister(s).
Cold sores in the mouth are not the same as canker sores. Canker sores are normally surrounded by red inflammation just like cold sores, but are actually white and not red. Canker sores are smaller than cold sores. They can be caused by spicy food, low vitamin intake, hormone changes, food allergies, etc. They never occur on the outside of your lip. Unlike cold sores, they are not contagious.
Cause of Outbreaks
The virus is spread via saliva (either directly or from sharing a drinking glass) or via skin contact. Approximately 80% of people have HSV-1, and most are infected before they reach the age of 10. It is, therefore, more common to have the virus than to not have the virus.
The reason “fever blister” and “cold sore” are common colloquial terms for HSV-1 is because fevers and colds can occasionally trigger outbreaks. However, outbreaks also often occur after sun exposure, trauma, stress, emotional discomfort, the monthly start of menstruation, dental problems, other illness, or digestive and stomach problems. Occasionally, there is seemingly no direct cause.
Once infected, the virus exists in a dormant (inactive) state deep in the facial nerve roots. In some people, the virus becomes active again from time to time, which is called a fever blister or cold sore outbreak . It is common for outbreaks to happen in the same place as they did prior.
The frequency differs from as much as weekly to as little as yearly. In frequency, it is second only to the common cold. Approximately 100 million outbreaks occur annually in the United States alone. Over 50 million individual adults experience at least one outbreak per year.
Recurrences become less common after the age 35. Sunscreen can help prevent sun damage outbreaks. There is no technical cure, however, for fever blisters. There are merely medicated lip balms, ointments, and oral medicines. The purposes are to decrease pain and discomfort, to numb the blisters, soften the crests of the sores. There are also antibiotics to control secondary bacterial infections.
Primary herpes, or the initial outbreak after first infected, can be come with a fever, swollen lymph nodes, bleeding gums, painful mouth ulcers, and a sore throat. These symptoms can last several days and cause difficulty eating and drinking. This can potentially then lead to dehydration.
These primary sores should completely clear between two to six weeks, usually without scarring. The virus can be transmitted from saliva days after the physical sores heal. Primary herpes most often happens in childhood.
Not every person has an intense primary attack when infected. In most people, the virus enters the body without causing any physical symptoms. The primary infection leads to a natural production of antibodies against the virus. This bodily response, helps reduce outbreaks and keeps them milder. Antibodies also make it harder for the virus to spread in the body. It is possible, however, to transfer the virus to other parts of the body.
There are antiviral drugs, such as valacyclovir valtrex, that prevent the sores from multiplying and, in pill form, have been reported to reduce frequency of outbreaks. There are also many home remedies, including: lemon balm (found in some lip balms 1%>); lemon tea; peppermint; mint; witch hazel oil; aloe vera; licorice powder mixed with petroleum jelly or water; echinacea; lysine cream; milk; cornstarch paste (made of equal parts starch and water); and rhubarb & sage mixtures.
One of the easiest ways to ward off outbreaks is to assure your lips are not dry. Dry lips tend to crack. Once cracked, viral and bacterial infections are easier to get. Always have petroleum jelly or chapstick on your person to avoid cracked lips.
There are ongoing studies into the potential treatment of cold sores with CBD, but they’re still in beginning phases. There is currently some anecdotal evidence that shows CBD may work against the dormant virus that leads to outbreaks, but further evidence is required for scientific certainty. There have also been ongoing studies on the impacts of THC on the virus, but again they are not yet conclusive.
If you wish to self-test, if you use products legal in your state, there is low risk in attempting to heal your cold sore with CBD or CBD full spectrum with THC included. As CBD is known to lessen pain and inflammation, even if outbreak time isn’t shortened, it would likely raise your personal comfort.
Fever blisters or cold sores have a natural healing time of 7-10 days, but it can take several weeks to heal completely. If you use home remedies, you can possibly shorten the timespan of the outbreak.
Fever blisters are rarely medical emergencies. Normally they’re minor inconveniences that go away fairly quickly. However, if you had a weakened immune system before an outbreak, or your sore doesn’t begin to heal, harden, or shrink within a week or two, you should seek out medical attention.