What Is a Cold Sore?
A cold sore is a small blister that forms on the outer edge of the lip. Some people call cold sores fever blisters.
Cold sores can appear one at a time or in little bunches. They're filled with fluid, then crust over and form a scab before they go away. They last about a week or two and usually don't need any treatment.
What Causes Cold Sores?
Cold sores are caused by a virus. The name of the virus is herpes (say: HUR-peez) simplex virus type 1 (or HSV-1, for short). Someone can get the virus by kissing someone with a cold sore or sharing personal items (like a towel, drinking glass, fork, or spoon) with them.
After a kid gets a cold sore, the HSV-1 virus stays in their body even after the cold sore goes away. And sometimes, the virus can make cold sores come back again.
How Can I Avoid Getting Cold Sores?
If you know someone who has a cold sore, try not to catch their germs. Don't kiss them or use their drinking glass, fork, spoon, or towels.
What Can I Do if I Have a Cold Sore?
Cold sores usually go away on their own, but sometimes doctors will treat them with medicine.
While you're waiting for the cold sore to go away:
- Wash your hands often so you don’t spread the virus to other people.
- Don't pick at the cold sore. Picking can spread the virus to other parts of your body. It can also make it take longer to heal.
- If you have pain, try placing some ice wrapped in cloth or a cool washcloth on the sore. It also might help to eat a popsicle. If the cold sore still feels uncomfortable, ask a parent if a pain medicine (like acetaminophen or ibuprofen) could help.
What Can I Do to Prevent Cold Sores From Coming Back?
Taking good care of yourself may help prevent cold sores from coming back. But sometimes they come back without a clear reason.
Here are some tips that may help prevent another cold sore: