While some people associate cold sores with winter, cold sores can occur at any time during the year. About 90 percent of adults across the globe test positive for the virus that causes cold sores. Most of these people will likely never show symptoms, but some may deal with recurring breakouts.
Cold sores are caused by an infection with the herpes simplex virus. Cold sores can be brought on by stress, sunlight, eating certain foods and menstruation, among other factors. Cold sores can also be spread by the shared use of glassware, silverware or toothbrushes. It is imperative that you never share a toothbrush, especially if you have experiences cold sores in the past.
Although many people believe that a cold sore simply “pops up,” this is not actually the truth. There is typically a tingling sensation anywhere from a few days to a few hours before a cold sore emerges. Treating a cold sore during the tingling phase may reduce its severity and duration, but it won’t prevent the sore from forming. Oral medication is most useful during this phase. Some people may experience pain at the site of the cold sore before it appears, but the most common way to know if you are getting ready to see a cold sore is the tingly sensation.
When to see a Doctor
If you experience cold sores only occasionally, home treatment can be enough to alleviate pain. However, if you are experiencing cold sores, you should see your doctor. There are prescription medications your doctor may be able to prescribe to help with the frequency and severity of your sores. You should also see your doctor if a cold sore spreads to your eye, is accompanied by a fever, doesn’t clear within a week or two, or isis surrounded by crusted or oozing skin.
Cold sores are one of the more painful and self-conscious causing infections. While they are unable to be avoided, once you know the signs of a cold sore, you can better treat them.