Close up of lips biting into a gummy worm, cold sore-free
Herpes & Cold Sores

Five Critical Cold Sore Stages

By Lizzie De La Cruz
Cold sores affect people of all ages. They are incredibly common and usually last for a week or two—this can feel like ages when they are accompanied by pain or itching! Cold sores can occur multiple times a year or only a few times over a person’s lifetime; the frequency depends on each person. There are five stages of a cold sore but the good news is that there is cold sore medication that will help.

What is a cold sore?

Cold sores are caused by a herpes simplex virus that most people are in contact with as children, usually from interacting with relatives or family friends who get cold sores. A cold sore is a fluid filled blister or cluster of blisters that appears around the lips and on the mouth. Although they aren’t curable, it’s possible to reduce the frequency and severity of cold sore outbreaks by taking antiviral medications and avoiding outbreak triggers as much as possible. There are some common things that can activate a cold sore including hormonal changes, menstruation, pregnancy, stress, body fatigue, cold or flu, extreme temperatures and injury to your mouth or lips. The Cold Sore Trio from wisp is a preventative pack of cold sore medication that can be taken when any of these activation factors occur and you find yourself experiencing an uncomfortable outbreak!

Stage one: Tingling 

This is the beginning stage of a cold sore. Before a cold sore appears, you may feel an itching or burning sensation around the mouth or on the lips. There are cold sore medications that can help at this stage. 

Stage 2: Blistering

This stage is when the cold sores become visible and can develop on the mouth, lips, or even inside the mouth and throat. It generally happens about two days after the tingling stage. Cold sore prescriptions that contain pain medication can help at this stage. Be sure to drink lots of water and stay hydrated. Cold sores at this stage can be highly contagious so you’ll want to avoid kissing or sexual activity that involves skin-to-skin contact with the blisters. 

Stage 3: Weeping

Medication for cold sores is really important at this stage. When the blisters break open, they are red and shallow and will be painful. Many people try to pick the blisters, but this can be harmful and can also spread the virus further and cause skin infections. 

Stage 4: Crusting

During this stage the open blisters begin to turn brown or yellow and form a crusty layer. During this stage the blisters are drying up. Medications for cold sore such as Acyclovir Cream may help at this stage for relief. Allowing the scabs to fall off naturally as opposed to picking them will allow the skin to heal normally and less chance of scarring. 

Stage 5: Healing

Your outbreak is almost over! The scabs fall off and there may be small red spots, but they should fade in a short time. There may still be some minor itching that cold sore medication can still help with. 
Cold sores are common and there should be no shame for those who have them. Like many other illnesses, it is caused by a virus. There are many cold sore medications available at wisp that can help to prevent cold sores and help in every stage.

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