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How Long is a Cold Sore Contagious?

how long is a cold sore contagious

Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are a common infection that affects most people. They are small blisters filled with fluid that appear on or around the lips and mouth.

But, do cold sores last forever? Are cold sores contagious? How long are cold sores contagious?

Before we answer those, let’s quickly talk about other important things you need to know about cold sores.

What Causes Cold Sores?

Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), which is very contagious – you can spread cold sores through personal contact or by sharing towels, razors, and eating utensils.

That said, cold sores are most contagious when they burst, and release fluids, meaning anyone that comes in contact with the liquid is at risk of infection.

So, if you’ve been wondering, are cold sores contagious? Yes, they are. 

Symptoms of Cold Sores

A cold sore has different phases, and you can often feel it coming on before the symptoms appear. Also, your cold sore symptoms may be different if it’s your first infection.

If it’s your first cold sore infection, you may experience the following:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Painful gums

The symptoms of a cold sore include:

  • Tingling and Itching: Before the sire becomes visible, it is common to feel a tingling and itching sensation where it will appear.
  • Blisters: Small fluid-filled blisters appear about a day after you feel the tingling and itching sensation.
  • Oozing and Crusting: The blisters burst and release the fluid, followed by crusting.

What to Do When you Have a Cold Sore

A cold sore should begin to heal within ten days and should heal completely within two weeks, but here are some cold sore remedies you can use to aid the healing process:

  • Use antiviral creams
  • Use lotions to ease the pain and irritation
  • Use cold sore patches to protect your skin while it heals.
  • Pain relievers to manage the pain
how long is a cold sore contagious

One common cold sore remedy is Abreva cream, so you may wonder, “how long is a cold sore contagious after using Abreva?”

According to the makers of Abreva, the cold sores can heal in as little as 2½ days if you apply it as soon as you feel the first symptoms of cold sores. However, healing time with Abreva cream may take up to four days.

At-Home Cold Sore Remedies

Aiding the healing process of your cold sores might require that you go out to buy things. But if you prefer to not step out, here are some home cold sore remedies you can employ:

  • Cold Compress to Reduce Pain: put the ice in a clean cloth before you apply it to your skin; direct approval can damage the skin.
  • Lemon Balm
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Kanuka Honey

How Long is a Cold Sore Contagious?

A cold sore is contagious as long as it is still visible.

If you can see the scar, the virus is still active, and you risk passing it to others. But, if the sore has healed completely and there are no more visible signs of the sore, it is no longer contagious.  

Dos and Don’ts of Cold Sores

If you get a cold sore, you must ensure proper care and avoid infecting others.

how long is a cold sore contagious

Here are some steps you can use to keep yourself and others safe. If you have a cold sore, don’t:

  • Kiss anyone
  • Engage in oral sex
  • Eat acidic or salty food if it worsens the sore
  • Touch your cold sore. If you do, wash your hands.
  • Rub cream into the sore; dab it instead.

You can take care of yourself by doing the following:

  • Eat cool, soft foods, so you don’t irritate the sore
  • Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration
  • Avoid anything that irritates the sore
  • Wash your hand with soap and water after applying cream on the sore
  • Use sunblock lip balm if you’re going into the sun

When to See a Doctor

Cold sores typically heal up within two weeks but you should see a doctor if:

  • You’re worried the sore is a symptom of something else
  • It has not started to heal within ten days
  • You have a weakened immune system, especially if you’ve undergone chemotherapy or have diabetes
  • The sore is large or painful
  • You get cold sores frequently
  • You experience severe symptoms

Stay Healthy With Craft Medical

Cold sores are common; most people will get them at least once in their lifetime. However, the vital thing to know is how to take care of yourself when you have a cold sore and avoid spreading it to others.

At Craft Medical, we care about your health. That’s why we’ve written this article to educate you about cold sores! So, now that you know the answers to “Are cold sores contagious?” and “How long is a cold sore contagious?” make sure to stay safe and healthy.

Have questions about cold sore treatment and cold sore remedies? Click the link below to book a call.

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