Colds sores develop on the lips, gums, mouth, cornea and sometimes the genitals. They are also commonly referred to as fever blisters. They are caused from exposure to a viral infection. Once you have become infected, the virus lays latent, or asleep, within your nerve cells. From time to time it may become reactivated, leading to another acute infection. Bacterial infections of the skin, such as impetigo, may be confused with cold sores.
Causes of Cold Sore
Herpes virus infects and invades the skin, often remaining dormant for months or years before causing active inflammation. Antibodies control the virus unless risk factors develop. Under certain conditions where psychological or physiological stress is high, the virus may become reactivated, leading to a new round of active disease. . The virus is contagious by direct contact with saliva, stools, urine or discharge from an infected eye. The blisters and ulcers of herpes simplex are contagious until they heal.
Signs and Symptoms of Cold Sore
Cold sores produce small, fluid-filled blisters. They usually occur around the mouth, gums, nose and lips, but can occur anywhere on the body. The blisters develop on a reddened area of skin that is painful. Eventually, the blisters break and ooze. Following that, they form yellow scabs or crusts that finally fall off. The underlying skin is pink. If the eye is infected, it can produce a red, painful eye and blurred vision. There may be increased sensitivity to light, a sensation of a foreign body in the eye and increased tearing.
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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