Fever blisters or commonly known as cold sores are small fluid filled lesions that develop around oral cavity or lips. These often occur in the form of patches that group together around lips. When the blister burst, a crust is formed that covers the sore. Fever blisters usually take two weeks to heal completely in most cases.
Causes of Fever Blisters
HSV-1 (herpes simplex virus) is the leading cause and lesions also involve genitals and mouth region. It can spread easily from one person to others by close contact especially kissing and use of items of personal use like utensils, towels and razors. HSV-1 and HSV-2 both are responsible for causing fever blisters around the facial region and on the genitals. Using antiviral medications helps in healing the blisters quickly and also decreases its recurrence.
The HSV stays inactive in nerve cells and reappear in states of low immunity or stressful conditions like fever. Other causes of recurrence include:
- Exposure to the sun
Symptoms of Fever Blisters
The appearance of fever blisters is marked by a prodromal stage (like all herpes infections). Classic symptoms include:
- Tingling and Itching. Feeling of itching, tingling and burning around the lips for a day or two before the blister appear.
- Blisters. Usually blisters erupt at the outer edge of lips where the skin of lips meets the face. Sometimes these tiny fluid filled blisters also erupt on cheeks and nose.
- Oozing and Crusting. The blisters burst usually after few days leaving the sore open allowing the blister fluid to form crust later.
- Complications. Blisters may be associated with high grade fever, headaches, swollen lymph, muscles aches and sore throat.
Children also develop fever blisters quite frequently that are mistaken for cranker sores (due to oral location)
Contact your physician or dentist immediately if:
- You experience high grade fever
- Your fever blisters persist more than a week
- The blister makes difficult for you to eat & swallow
- Your blister reappears
Remedies for Fever Blisters
1. Medical treatment
Usually the fever blisters take two weeks to heal properly but there are many antiviral drugs available in the market that can be used to achieve early remission. These include:
Some of these products are available in the form of pills which can be swallowed, while others are topical anti-viral agents.
2. Home remedies
- Consider OTC Options. Over the counter agents like docosanol can be used to manage fever blisters. It has been approved by Food and Drug administration to be used on blisters. By applying the cream frequently, you can decrease the outbreak within hours or a day. Lysine is another alternative. It is an essential amino acid that is available in both cream and oral supplement form. Food like beans, vegetables, fish, chicken and turkey are rich in amino acid and are considered helpful for healing blisters.
- Apply Ice Compress. Applying ice over blister also helps in decreasing the inflammation. Use crushed ice or ice cube over affected area at least 3 times in a day. You can also use a towel after soaking it in cold water to decrease redness and pain.
- Apply Tea Bag Compress. Tea consist of compounds namely tannins and flavones which works as an antiseptic. Take a tea bag and steep it in hot water for a minute then drain the water and apply it over infected area for at least 2 minutes. Repeat the process twice a day for 7 days.
- Reduce Stress. If your blister is a result of stress, you can get benefitted from relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing exercises.
- Eat Wisely. Do not eat too much of spicy food and food with hard texture as it can increase the irritation in fever blisters. Go for soft and blended foods that are low in spices and irritants.
- Use Salt. Salt works as an antiseptic and as a powerful healing agent. It also works best on fever blisters. Dip a cotton swab in hot water and then in salt, place it over blister. It may induce a little burning sensation but will help in decreasing the inflammation significantly. You can also rinse your mouth with salt water. Table salt and sea salt both are good for curing fever blister.
- Use Lemon Balm. Lemon balm is another very useful remedy for curing fever blisters as it contains tannins and eugenol that destroys all the bacteria and gives a soothing sensation on inflamed tissues. Lemon balm is made from crush lemon balm leaves steep in hot water. Apply this mixture over the affected area several times so that it can heal quickly.
- Use Vitamin E. Vitamin E oil also helps in treating fever blisters. Dip a cotton swab in vitamin E oil and apply it over infected area. Vitamin E also helps in clearing the scar formed by blisters.
- Use Eggs & Yogurt Mask. Yogurt and egg facial mask is also helpful for treating fever blisters. To make the mask, use an egg with a cup of yogurt and mix well. Apply the mask over infected area and leave for 30 minutes. Wash with warm water and you can see the result. The redness of blister decreases and gives you a soothing effect.
- Go for Licorice. Licorice is herb use for the prevention of viral replication of fever blisters. Direct application helps in decreasing inflammation and pain.
- Avoid Too Much Sun Exposure. Avoid too much sun exposure as it is known to deteriorate fever blisters. Apply sun screen lotions on face and around mouth area. Fever blisters are highly contagious so avoid unnecessary touching your face.
Preventing the Spread of Fever Blisters
Following are some precautions to prevent the spread of fever blisters
- As fever blister is highly contagious, it is advised to avoid kissing or maintaining any type of physical contact.
- If you accidentally touch the blister, immediately wash your hand.
- Daily clean your fever blister with a cotton swab to prevent further infection.
- Do not scratch off the scab of your blister
- Avoid using glass and other utensils of an infected person and if you get infected then don't allow other person to use your utensils.