Cold sores that are sometimes, referred to as fever blisters, are a group of small blisters that form on the lips and around the mouth area. The skin that is present around these blisters is red in colour, swollen and sore. These blisters may break open, leak clear fluid and eventually scab over the following few days. On an average, they heal in a few days to 2 weeks.
Fever blisters are caused by herpes simplex virus, which are of two types: HSV-1 and HSV-2. Both these viruses are potent to caused sores around the mouth area as well as the genitals.
Usually the herpes simplex virus enters a person's body through a break in the skin present inside or around the mouth. These get usually spread when a person touches the cold sore or touches infected fluid, which usually happens during sharing of utensils or other utilities, physical contact or somehow getting in touch with the saliva of an infected person. Cold sores from a parent can easily get transmitted to the child through contact with any of the methods mentioned earlier.
A doctor usually diagnoses cold sores or fever blisters by looking at the common places where it is the most likely to develop in. He may also take a medical history of the patient and examine the blisters closely. Thereafter, he could recommend some tests that help in diagnosing the exact cause for the problem. Tests for diagnosing HSV-1 include blood tests, immunoperoxidase or immunofluorescence studies and viral cultures. These tests are carried out by scraping of cells from the infected area. These tests are not really needed in otherwise healthy patients.
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