What Other Health Problems Can Cold Sores Cause?


Are you aware that cold sores (herpes labialis) are also referred to as fever blisters? They both are one thing referring to common viral infections. The blisters often group in patches to form tiny and fluid-filled blisters on the lip area, chin, nose, or skin around the mouth.

People tend to get viral infections either in childhood or early adulthood. But, everyone is at risk, especially those with suppressed immune systems.

The primary virus causing the cold sores is herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). Cold sores are less likely to be caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2).

Besides, many other viruses exist in the herpes virus family. But, the infection plus the symptoms are different. This includes the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) that causes shingles and chickenpox.

According to WHO, approximately 3.7 billion people (67%) below 50 years have HSV-1 infection worldwide. On the other hand, around 491 million people (13%) between 15–49 years have HSV-2 infection globally.

You risk contracting the sores that spread from one person to another via scenarios like:

  • Close contact like kissing and hugging
  • Sharing personal items like towels, toothbrushes, razors
  • Using common eating utensils and drinking bottles

Once you have the sores and the blisters start breaking, you’ll experience a scab formation that lasts several days. Unfortunately, without treatment, the infection may persist for life. But, typically, the cold sores will heal within two to three weeks without a scar.

Nonetheless, the best thing you can do once you have the sores is to fasten the healing process and reduce outbreak severity with the best cold sore treatment. Cold sore treatments are usually all-natural and fast-acting relief. Thankfully, the treatment is more readily available. This is because you can get the cold sore treatment online or over-the-counter.

How Common is HSV Infection and Which Body Parts Get Affected?

Surprisingly, 90% of adults worldwide already carry herpes simplex antibodies in their bloodstream. Some have one form of the virus, while others have both. This means that they have contracted the virus at some point in their lives.

But, the primary infection doesn’t often cause any symptoms. A third of the infected group usually experience cold sores. It’s often a recurrence of the previous infection. Most of these people tend not to have experienced symptoms from the earlier infection.

First-time infections can result in symptoms like:

  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Persistent headaches
  • Burning pain inside the mouth
  • Pain when swallowing anything
  • Stomach upsets
  • Muscle aches

The different parts of the body that the virus can be transmitted to include:

  • The lips or herpes labialis- these outbreaks are known as cold sores or fever blisters. They are often mild but may need treatment with antiviral medicines. This is especially if the sores become more common or severe.
  • The hands and fingers or herpetic whitlow- Using a rubber or plastic gloves can help prevent the spread.
  • The anus or herpes proctitis- is often more severe than other forms of genital herpes.
  • The eyes or herpes keratitis- are transmitted from the mouth or genitals to the eyes. Without early treatment, it can turn out severe and cause blindness. That’s why you need to visit a doctor immediately if your eye is continuously irritated or you have unusual pain in your eye.
  • The lungs, liver, and joints- occur mainly in people with compromised immune systems.

What Complications Are Associated with Cold Sores

Cold sores are often an irritating concern for the majority who contract them. Admissibly, they do get better with some treatment forms.

Cold sores can increase and multiply for those undergoing some type of immunosuppression (like those undergoing chemotherapy or taking more corticosteroids like prednisolone). The symptoms can also turn out more severe.

If the HSV invades a different body part from the genital area, it’s likely to cause disease in that specific body part. Though complications are rare, it helps to know what they could be. The common complications include:

  • Meningitis- is an infection of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and tissues (meninges) surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
  • Encephalitis- is a brain inflammation caused by a viral infection.
  • Lower spinal cord and nerve inflammation- may lead to the loss of ability to urinate and loss of the senses and muscle strength in the legs.

The uncommon complications that one may encounter and which may need immediate medical attention include:

  • Bacterial infections – come with symptoms like blisters with pus, blisters with redness all around, and pus-filled blisters accompanied by fever.
  • Cold sores spread to different body parts like eyes and fingers – a cold sore that spreads to the eyes leads to painful red eyes. In this case, you need immediate health care attention. You can seek a cold sore treatment online or cold sore treatments over the counter. Remember, the herpes virus can cause an ulcer on your cornea, eventually damaging the sight. But, you can prevent permanent damage by seeking early treatment. This includes treatment to suppress the virus.

Cold Sore Treatment

Thankfully, cold sores are hardly likely to cause any serious issues or permanent skin damage. You’ll enjoy your full health benefits with a proper cold sore treatment. Avoid breaking blisters or picking the scabs, as it can lead to a secondary infection with bacteria or scarring.

Antiviral treatments may be in the form of creams and tablets. Creams that treat the symptoms tend to be so soothing. The creams will often work best when applied to the blister during the earliest stages of the cold sore development.

Most of these medications will shorten the duration of the cold sore by cutting down the virus’ ability to reproduce.

Final Thoughts

When you have a cold sore, it’s essential to seek medical help as soon as possible. Indeed, once you catch the virus, it remains in your body and can heal on its own within a week or two.

But, your healthcare comes first, and it’s upon you to care for it. That’s why you should take the step to seek a cold sore medication. Even with the blisters around the mouth, the cold sore treatment on the lip should help clear them.

The prescribed antiviral medications (creams or pills) can fasten healing, especially if you take them immediately after you notice the first symptoms. The treatment will help manage the outbreaks. They may also reduce possible future episodes’ length, frequency, and severity.

Besides, if you catch a cold sore, ensure you wash your hands after touching the sore. Be more careful to avoid poking your eyes after touching the cold sore. The fluid in the blisters is considered the most infectious.

If you have little kids with a cold sore who can’t follow good hygiene practices, you must confine them away from school or childcare until the blisters stop weeping. Ensure you also dress the blisters appropriately, where possible.