What are fever blisters? A fever blister is a small superficial ulcer which is situated on the face or around the mouth and causes pain, burning and itching. The most prominent locations where it occurs is on lips, chin, cheeks and in the nostrils. A fever blister happens in a series of groups which causes swollen red soar wounds. They generally occur near the mouth or other areas of the face. Sometimes a fever blister can either be explicit or can harbour a fluid which later dries up and forms a scab after a few days. Once the scab is created, the fever blister is not contagious.
What causes the spread of fever blisters or cold sores?
"Common causes for fever blisters are due to viral infections like Herpes simplex one and Herpes Simplex 2. This virus is dormant in one’s body but is reactivated by several factors such as stress, fever, sunburn and common viral infections. The recurrence of lesions does happen in some individual who is prone to it- either genetically or due to a highly stressful environment. Some women even get this blisters every month around the time of their monthly cycles" says Dr Monica Goel Consultant Physician, P.D Hinduja Hospital & MRC.
What can cause cold sores to flare up?
- Fever blisters can be contagious because they are caused due to viral infection. In case a person comes in physical contact with the person who is being already infected with fever blisters, they can be victims of it too. Generally, the soars are self-limiting and can be treated by not creating much of a complication. Cold sores are typically caused because of viral infection, especially herpes simplex 1 and 2, which are usually contagious.
- Nutritional deficiency: It has been noted that cold sores are either triggered or caused further when there is a deficiency of zinc, iron or folic acid in the human body. Calcium deficiency can also worsen the cold sores or fever blisters.
Signs and symptoms of fever blisters or cold sores
Dr Shireen Furtado, Consultant - Medical & Cosmetic Dermatology shares the signs and symptoms of fever blisters.
- Tingling and itching - Many people feel burning, itching, or tingling around the lips, before a hard, small or painful spot appears and blisters erupt.
- Blisters - Sometimes small fluid-filled blisters can typically erupt along the border of your lips and can also appear around the nose, cheeks or inside the mouth.
- Oozing and crusting - These small blisters may emerge and then burst, leaving behind shallow open sores that ooze and crust over
Treatments for fever blisters or cold sores
Dr Monica Goel shares treatment measures for fever blisters.
- Application of anti-viral ointments or balms with anti-septic properties helps in recovery
- A ball of clean cotton swab needs to be used to apply emollient on the fever blisters
- Ice also helps to reduce the inflammation and blood flow in the infected area
- Zinc therapy - Zinc is an essential mineral that can help with boosting immunity and preventing recurrence of viral infections. Oral zinc and Vit C can help reduce recurrence rates.
*Fever blisters can heal without treatment; however, without proper antivirals can leave a scar.
Also read: 10 Ways to Fend Off Cold and Flu
Try these home remedies and get rid of fever blisters or cold sores
There are some home remedies to soothe the skin in case of treatment unavailable by Dr Pooja Kohli, VP (Ayurveda Growth), NirogStreet.
- Fever Blisters can be reduced by increasing immunity by using Swamla or Chyawanprash one teaspoon twice daily.
- Mouth ulcers are if associated with constipation in that case need to treat constipation with Triphala or avipatikar churan.
- Apply Aloe vera paste on the blister for relief and avoid hot, spicy food, coffee, tea etc
- Garlic paste is useful for cold sores due to its anti-fungal, antibacterial properties.
- Apply Aloe Vera on the blister it gives a soothing effect and reduces pitta also.
- Honey helps in healing so it can be used for application as well as eating too.
- Juice of Ginger with honey, powder of Black pepper with honey.
- The decoction of Ginger and neem with honey can be served to the patient.
- Chew one teaspoon of Ajwain followed with drinking Luke warm water.
- Clove of Garlic can be taken by crushing with honey, or same can be used in cooking too.
- Talisadi churna can be taken with honey.
- In diet include Ghee, Dhaniya, almond along with light and sweet food.
- Add a little salt in hot water and bathe with it.
- Applying petroleum jelly on the affected part also provides relief.
- Do not engage in physical/sexual activity until the symptoms of herpes are entirely eradicated.
- ICE – Ice can help in treating the inflammation as it reduces the blood flow to the area and numbs it, which results in lesser pain. Even though this treatment is temporary, it prevents discomfort.
*It is important to note that sunscreen (SPF 15 or more) on the lips prevents recurrences of herpes from sunburn.
Prevention tips for fever blisters
- Reduce stress by adding as many as self-care approaches.
- Stay as healthy as possible, and take steps to boost your immunity.
- Begin the treatment at the first symptom of blister outbreak.
- To help reduce the frequency of blisters, take daily antiviral medications if needed.
How to prevent transmission of cold sores?
- Avoid scratching, picking or touching the cold sores.
- Wash your hands frequently. When cold sores are present, avoid skin-to-skin contact with others.
- Especially when a sore is present, avoid sharing utensils, drinks, toothpaste, towels, lip products, or any objects that may touch the mouth.
Can fever blisters or cold sores be treated overnight?
Dr Shireen Furtado states that "unfortunately, fever blisters cannot be treated overnight. It takes two weeks for the lesions to subside completely. Currently, there is an option of suppressive therapy - if a person has numbness and pain of an impending blister and can predict an impending attack, then there is the availability of suppressive antiviral treatment that can abort the fever blister before it appears."
FAQs about fever blisters or cold sores
- What is the difference between fever blisters and cold sores? Several people have confusion among cold sores and fever blisters. So here we are clarifying the fact that there is no difference between a fever blister and a cold sore, and both are the same.
- What foods aggravate cold sores? When cold sores revive and scab, eating acidic foods can aggravate the sore. Some foods to avoid are tomatoes, citrus fruits, wine, fruit juices, vinegar-based salad dressings, pickles and soda. Spicy and hot foods can also tend to break cold sores.
- When to consult a doctor? When the symptoms of cold sores do not go away after two weeks, then you must visit the doctor. If there is burning or swelling then definitely visit the doctor. This disease also occurs due to weak immune system and some medicines. That is why even then see a doctor.
- Where can the blisters appear? There may be blisters on the throat, gums, mouth and lips that indicate symptoms of cold sores. Many blisters are also called outbreaks. It has the following characteristics:
- Red-coloured blisters that are open or torn.
- Small blisters that are filled with yellow fluid.
- Yellow and husky blister which after healing produces pinkish skin.
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