Cold sores are caused by a viral infection that attacks the skin and nervous system. Cold sores are small, painful, fluid-filled blisters on the mouth or nose.
The first symptoms that often appear during an outbreak may include tingling, burning, or itching in the area around the mouth or nose. This first portion of the outbreak is known as the prodromal stage or period. This is when you want to begin treating.
Within a few hours to days, the area may become reddened and develop small fluid-filled blisters. Several of these small blisters may even come together and form one large blister.
The blisters of HSV-1 contain the virus that causes cold sores. Without proper hygiene, this virus can be very contagious. This is why it is important if you have cold sores to wash your hands often, especially after you may have touched your face. Do not share cups or utensils with another person.
If you are prone to outbreaks, treat the affected area before and after facial or waxing services or before any situation that you know tends to lead to an outbreak.