Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus. How long do cold sores last? Because they appear on the lips or on the edges of the nostrils, most people are desperate to get rid of them as quickly as possible. Like any other facial blemishes, they are embarrassing but, worse than other facial blemishes, they are infectious and often leak water or blood. It is possible to accelerate their healing. In fact, if you choose your treatment well, you can either eliminate two thirds of the normal healing time, or prevent the blister from forming all the way.
How Long Do Cold Sores Last?
According to the NHS, untreated cold sores take approximately seven to ten days to heal. Medical specialists at the University of Maryland Medical Center believe that they last between two and three weeks, with some sores in people with weakened immune system lasting as long as six weeks.
In most cases, it starts with a tingling or burning feeling, followed by the appearance of a small pimple-like bump, which then develops into a water-filled blister. This blister remains for five or six days, after which it dries out and disappears.
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus. The virus lies dormant in your body until you injure your lips, or until your immune system momentarily weakens. Then it pounces.
During the life cycle of a cold sore, the virus infects the tissue in one spot on your lips, and proliferate in the sore that results from this infection.
The Birth of a Cold Sore
You can intervene at any time during the life cycle of a cold sore, but you will make the biggest difference if you apply an anti-viral ointment before the blister forms. This does not kill the virus that has already infected your tissue, but it does stop it from reproducing. As a result, you will develop a tiny sore the size of a blackhead that disappears in day or two when the virus cannot replicate to stay alive.
Accordingly, it is important to have a good antiviral cold sore ointment around your house at all times. It can make the difference between a pinhead-size sore and a huge blister, and the difference between one and ten days of sores on your mouth. If you do not have a proper ointment when the tingling starts, fresh crushed garlic and green tea may have a similar effect, according to some researchers. Because many over-the-counter ointments concentrate and strengthen the antiviral substances they contain, they are by far better than anything you have in your kitchen, however. Use the garlic or green tea only as an emergency measure until you can buy a proper treatment.
According to some studies, it takes around 15 hours from infection to replication. Therefore, you have 15 hours during which you can stop cold sores from developing with a good antiviral substance. This is great news because, even if the infection occurs during the night, you should still have enough time to treat it the next morning before the virus starts replicating.
Many people complain on online message boards that they experience no tingling feeling on their lips before cold sores appear. It is unlikely that the infection occurs without accompanying symptoms. You may just miss them.
Because I am prone to cold sores, I have adopted an elaborate lip care regime. I rub a lip balm on my lips every two hours or so. I always notice the tingling, burning feeling when I touch them. Applying regular moisturizer also makes it possible for me to detect injuries and small sores. If I injure my lips or spend time in the sun, I immediately apply Herpeset, my chosen antiviral cold sore treatment.
If you follow these simple rules, you will probably detect the infections and will be able to stop the virus before it can cause a large cold sore. Moreover, regular moisturizing, especially with a sun resistant substance, will prevent lip injuries caused by dryness and sun damage.
The Maturation of a Cold Sore
If you fail to detect the infection before the virus starts to replicate, you will develop a cold sore and it will take days to clear up. Unfortunately, while there are many substances that can stop viruses from reproducing or disrupt their ability to infiltrate bodily tissue (antiviral), there are none that can that be applied to sensitive body tissue that can kill viral cells halfway through their life cycle (virucidal).
If you apply an antiviral ointment once the cold sore has already formed, it will stop the already developed viral cells from reproducing further, so you will still manage to shorten the duration of the outbreak. However, then your job is a bit more difficult, because your chosen treatment should also contain an anti-inflammatory substance to inhibit the inflammatory chemicals that your body secretes in response to the sore, a substance to dry up the water inside the blister, and a substance to control the pain. Without these, the sore will take longer the heal. That is another reason why I like Herpeset. It contains a comprehensive list of ingredients that can deal with a cold sore at any stage of its life cycle.
The Death of a Cold Sore
It is important not to pick at a cold sore. If it bursts, it will take longer to heal, as it is then essentially an open wound. Even worse, since the virus replicates in the fluid inside the blister, you will spread live viral cells all over your lips as far as the fluid runs.
Before it disappears, a cold sore dries up. It often remains on your lip as a dry sore for a few days before it vanishes for good.
As you can see, you have a lot of control over the time it takes for a cold sore to heal. The most important skill is to detect the initial infection. If you fail, your influence diminishes somewhat. Permanent awareness of the condition of your lips will take you a long way.