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Cold Sores

Herpes simplex sores

Cold sores, or fever blisters, are small lesions that appear around the lips, nostrils and sometimes on the roof of the mouth or on the gums. They are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1. Approximately 90% of all Americans are exposed to the virus by the age of 5. Once infected, the virus lies dormant until it is triggered by a cold or fever.


Symptoms of a cold sore include a small fluid-filled blister near the lips, gums or in the mouth. The spot is usually very painful. While they usually run their course in 7 to 10 days, they can be extremely uncomfortable. A burning sensation may precede the eruption of blisters.


Cold sores can be triggered by a fever or a cold. Sunshine or extreme cold can also cause the virus to activate.


If you get an eruption more than four times a year, you may want to see a doctor about it. If you have a fever, swollen glands or flu symptoms with an outbreak, or if your sore is so painful it is difficult to eat or perform normal activities, make an appointment.

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