What are the Symptoms of Cold Sores?
Symptoms before the appearance of the blisters-
- Pain around the mouth and lips
- Sore throat
- Swollen glands in the neck or other parts of the body
- Drooling is seen in small children
Following the appearance of the blisters; the cold sores usually break open, leak a clear fluid, and then crust over and disappear after several days to 2-weeks. Cold sores can be very painful in some people.
Different stages of cold sores-
Day 1-2: The Tingle stage (The Prodrome Stage) - Usually a person's first indication that a cold sore is developing is that they notice a sense of soreness, tautness, or swelling in the location where their cold sore will ultimately form. Sometimes this same area is slightly reddened.
Day 2-3: The Blister stage - The first readily visible sign of cold sore formation is an outbreak of fluid filled blisters. Usually these blisters are very small in size (smaller in diameter than the thickness of a dime) and they usually form in a cluster that is no larger than about the size of a nickel. Sometimes individual blisters coalesce with others so to form a single larger blister.
Day 4: The Weeping stage (The Ulcer Stage) - Cold sore blisters usually rupture shortly after they are formed leaving a shallow reddish ulceration whose surface becomes gray. This phase of cold sore's formation can be the most painful stage. This is also the stage at which a cold sore is most contagious.
Days 5 - 8: The Crusting stage - In those areas where the cold sore lesion is not kept wet by moisture from the mouth the ulcer will become dry and scab over with a brownish crust. The formation of this scabbing is often accompanied by an itching or burning sensation. Often the scab will crack or break, which in turn produces bleeding.
Days 9 - 12: The Final Healing stage - As time progresses the cold sores begin to heal. Usually a series of scabs will form on the lesion, each subsequently flaking off. Each new scab will be smaller than the previous one until the cold sore resolves itself fully, usually without scarring.