What Causes Cold Sores?

There it is, that irritating bump on your lip. They pop up now and again — cold sores. While they don’t last long, they sometimes itch, burn, and make you feel unattractive. The appearance of cold sores can be caused be a few sources, but once you get them, chances are they may recur. It’s important you know both how cold sores can be contracted as well as what can cause an outbreak in order to keep your lips and mouth cold sore free.

What caused my cold sore?

The source of your cold sore is most likely something you contracted a while ago which may not have caused any symptoms at that time. Most commonly, cold sores are a symptom of the Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 which you probably got from touching or kissing someone who was carrying the virus. The virus makes it way into your tissues through small cuts on your lips or just inside your mouth. It may make you feel a little sick at first, but you won’t get a cold sore until the virus goes dormant and then at a later time is triggered back into action.

A case of mistaken identity

Another virus that can cause bumps on your lips is the human papilloma virus. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates there are more than 100 strains of this virus just on the mouth and lips. This virus causes warts, which can be mistaken for cold sores. You’ll know the difference if after about two weeks, the bump is still there. Warts can take one-to-two years to disappear. If symptoms worsen or last more than 7 days, talk to your doctor.

There’s also confusion between cold sores and canker sores. Location is the biggest determining factor when it comes to deciphering between these two. Cold sores appear outside of the mouth, on the lips or surrounding skin. Canker sores, which are not caused by viruses, occur exclusively inside the mouth. There are separate remedies to treat canker and cold sores, although both typically heal and disappear within two weeks. Campho-Phenique is for external use only and not for use inside the mouth.

How do I stop getting cold sores?

Bodily stress is the biggest trigger to causing an outbreak of cold sores. It’s the source, in one way or another, for all the situations where cold sores often appear. Even their name originated from catching a “cold,” which puts undue stress on your body. Major life events, big presentations at work, things that happen where you actually feel the added stress on your body are also cold sore triggers. Avoiding all of these as best you can, can decrease your chances of unsightly cold sores.

You can also lessen your chances of an outbreak by avoiding excessive sun exposure, using sunscreen on your face as well as protective lip balm and by avoiding sharing certain objects such as towels, razors, silverware, and toothbrushes with someone that currently has a cold sore.

Can I treat the cold sores I have now?

There’s no actual cure for cold sores. They will clear up on their own between one and two weeks. However, if applied early enough, there is an over-the-counter solution that can combat cold sore pain and help relieve the symptoms of cold sores that constantly remind you that they are present. Campho-Phenique® Cold Sore Treatment dries out the cold sore without causing cracking. Used in the early stage of a cold sore, before it scabs over from popping, Campho-Phenique’s maximum strength formula relieves pain and itching on contact.

If you’re prone to cold sore outbreaks, keeping Campho-Phenique Cold Sore Treatment in your medicine cabinet enables you to use the pain relieving product at the first sign of a cold sore. Learn more about Campho-Phenique.

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