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Cold Sores


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Cold sores (also known as oral herpes, herpes simplex type 1, or herpes 1) are tiny, fluid-filled blisters or crusty sores that typically form around your lips. Cold sores are triggered by a contagious viral infection. You have about a 50-50 chance of catching this virus by the time you are 20 years old. You can easily spread cold sores through kissing or sharing drinks, even if you can't see the sores. There's no cure for this infection, and the blisters may come and go at any time.

You may never experience any symptoms from the herpes simplex type 1 virus; however, when the virus activates, it produces oral herpes or cold sores around your lips, cheeks, nostrils, or chin area.

Episodes of cold sores usually do not last longer than two weeks. The following symptoms may accompany your cold sore:

  • Severe flu-like symptoms and ulcers in and around the mouth
  • A small blister or cluster of blisters on the lips and mouth that enlarge and burst, leaving shallow, open sores that will ooze fluid and then crust over
  • Tingling, itching, and irritation of the lips and mouth
  • Soreness of the lips and mouth that may last three to seven days


Ointment or Cream
Your dermatologist may prescribe an ointment or cream that you apply regularly to the affected area.

Oral Medication
Your dermatologist may prescribe an oral (taken by mouth) medication to treat the cold sores.


Physical Exam
Through a medical examination of your skin, we can accurately diagnose and determine the best way to treat your cold sores.

To confirm the diagnosis, we may remove a small section of the cold sore (biopsy) and send it to a laboratory for analysis.

Why Choose UHealth?

World-class leaders in skin care treatment. University of Miami Health System is recognized throughout South Florida and the world as a leader in caring for conditions and disorders of the skin. Backed by one of the nation’s top universities, our team uses the latest technologies and research-driven expertise to provide superior, personalized treatments for dermatologic conditions.

Compassionate care in an academic medical center. You benefit from the state-of-the-art technology and latest medical advancements developed by our researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. You will receive the most accurate diagnosis and a detailed plan to keep you healthy.

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