What are Cold Sores?

Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are small somewhat painful blisters that usually appear on or around a person’s lips and are caused by the herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1). Once a person becomes infected with a herpes virus, the virus never leaves the body. The virus stays dormant in the nerve cells but it can become active again, causing cold sores.

Many Americans will get a cold sore at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, once you've had a cold sore, chances are it will come back again, probably at the worst possible time, like just before a big social occasion, or when you're about to make that important business presentation.

Even though they are so common, the cause and treatment of cold sores remain a mystery to most people.

While there is no medication to rid the body of the herpes simplex virus that causes cold sores, Campho-Phenique© Cold Sore Treatment will help to ease the pain and itching, while helping to prevent infections that could slow the healing process.


Back to Top

Symptoms of a Cold Sore

Some people may feel tingling, burning, pain or itching in the affected area before a cold sore forms. That’s when you know - you're about to get a cold sore.

Whether you call it a cold sore, or a fever blister, it starts out as a tiny virus - herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), which has been lying dormant in the body and decides to “wake up.”


Stages of a Cold Sore

One or more red-trimmed, fluid-filled blisters appear around the lips. Often these small blisters cluster together to form larger lesions.

The blisters burst open, causing pain and a burning sensation. A crust is developed over the red base of the blister. The blister will eventually flake off and the cold sore will disappear.

Most cold sores heal within about 2 weeks, but in that time, they guarantee a future for themselves. The cold sore virus usually hides in the nerve cells and remains dormant at these sites until something happens to wake them up.

Back to Top

What Causes a Cold Sore to Appear?

HSV-1 is very common and could have been picked up when you were a child by close contact (a kiss or a shared drink or utensil) with an adult who had the virus.

The virus remains in your body for the rest of your life, although not everyone with the virus develops cold sores.

Like an unexpected visitor, cold sores can come back at the worst moment. Although scientists still haven't determined exactly what causes the cold sore virus to reactivate and travel back to the lips, there are a number of factors that can lead to a recurrence such as severe colds and flu, too much exposure to sun, hormonal changes caused by menstruation, and stress - which probably accounts for the tendency of cold sores to show up when they are most inconvenient.

Back to Top

How do Cold Sores Spread?

Cold sores can be highly contagious and can spread very easily. The cold sore virus is spread by contact with the blisters or by contact with infected saliva. Even if there are no visible cold sores, it is still possible to transfer the virus, although it is far more likely to happen if the sores are actually present. The virus can also be spread during sexual contact.

Back to Top

How Can Cold Sores Be Prevented?

There are ways to try to prevent the number of cold sore outbreaks.

  • Avoid cold sore triggers, such as colds, flu and stress
  • Use lip balm and sunscreen on your face
  • Avoid sharing objects such as towels, razors, silverware and toothbrushes that a person with a cold sore may have used.
Back to Top

Ways to Fight Cold Sores

Fortunately, you don't have to take cold sores lying down. There are a number of treatments, both prescription and non-prescription, that can relieve the symptoms of cold sores and promote their healing.

  • The ingredients in Campho-Phenique® Cold Sore Treatment can temporarily ease the pain and itching of cold sores. Campho-Phenique® also contains an antiseptic that works to prevent infections that can slow the healing process.
  • Avoid hot beverages, spicy and salty foods and citrus.
  • Apply ice or a warm washcloth to the sores to help ease the pain.
  • Keep cold sores clean and dry.

There are steps you can take so that you don’t spread the virus to other parts of your body:

  • Don't use saliva to wet contact lenses.
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Don't touch your cold sores except when you need to put on your cold sore treatment.
Back to Top