This virus cannot only be annoying but painful as well. Eight out of ten people have the herpes virus that causes these sores and there is no cure. Once the virus is in the body it stays there and can reoccur and become active again at any time. One thing most ask is, how long do cold sores last and the answer is they come in around five stages.
They are very contagious and can be spread by any contact with the infected area, kissing, sharing utensils, face clothes or towels. The most infectious period is when the blister starts to open and ooze fluid, however they are contagious the whole time. Treatment can be in the form of medicine prescribed by a doctor or an over the counter cream. The first stage after becoming infected can take anything up to a week or longer to show any signs of the virus. A tingling sensation is usually the first symptom a person will notice. Tightness can also be felt and the area can become red and sore.
The second stage usually presents during the second to third day into the outbreak. This is when the cold sore starts to become more visible and the blister appears. More often than not, they are small though this is not always the case. One blister may form or a small cluster of them may present at this stage.
The fifth day onwards is when the blisters can start to open and leak fluid, usually lasting only a day or two. This can also be the most painful stage for some and the most contagious. Although some do not experience pain just a frustrating itch or tingle in the area. Keeping the area clean with a little warm water on a cloth may help but do not rub, only dab the area. Take care to wash hands more during this stage to avoid infecting other people. Also, try not to touch the sore too much when not cleaning the area. During the third phase up to seven days later, a scab can form over the sore becoming dry and crusty. This can also cause the area to become itchy. The scab will often break and in some cases can cause bleeding. Applying cream during this phase may help to keep the area moist and reduce the risk of a painful breaking scab.
Anything up to 12 days later, the healing starts to fully kick in. New scabs will continue to form over the sore, becoming smaller each time until the area heals and the sore disappears. For most people, no scarring will occur and the area will be back to normal in no time. It really is an individual thing how long do cold sores last and how quick each person heals. Some may have more outbreaks when tired, unwell or going through a lot of stress. Treatment is best applied at the first stages of feeling that tingling sensation. Never picking or popping cold sores is always advised. Having a healthy lifestyle can stop or reduce the number of attacks and keep the virus dormant.