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
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