What Are Cold Sores?

A cold sore also known as herpes is a common and often embarrassing condition that occurs when small groups of blisters form on the lips or around the mouth. The blisters are typically red, swollen and painful. People usually feel a tingling in the area a few hours prior to an outbreak. They are self-limited and resolve on their own in a few days by scabbing up.

Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus which usually enters the body through the skin. It is transferred by direct contact, often by kissing or sharing a drinking glass. The first outbreak of herpes is usually the worst and then outbreaks can recur either a few times in a lifetime or as frequently as every month.

Two viruses cause herpes. Herpes simplex-1, often associated with the lip lesions and herpes simplex-2, often associated with legions of the buttocks or genitals.

If cold sores persist or spread you should have them examined by a dermatologist. See our treatment video for more information.