Herpes/cold sores/fever blisters

All of these conditions are one and the same. They are caused by the Herpes Simplex virus, which can be transmitted from person to person through direct contact. Herpes can develop above or below the waist. It is caused by a virus which lives within the nerves under the skin. As a result of heat, stress or being run down, the virus migrates to the surface of the skin and causes blisters, tingling, and usually pain or discomfort in the area.

The Herpetic lesions usually develop on the lips, the genital area, or the buttocks but appear anywhere on the skin or mucous membranes. Usually the first outbreak is the most severe. Subsequent outbreaks tend to recur at or near the site of the initial outbreak.  The Herpes virus lives within the nerves for an individual’s lifetime. There is no cure for Herpes, but there is treatment, which can alleviate and/or reduce outbreaks and symptoms. Keeping the infected area cool, as well as dry, is helpful. Ice packs and Calamine lotion applied to the area tend to move the virus away from the skin back into the nerve roots.

The yearly outbreaks of this virus vary significantly from individual to individual depending on whether or not somebody gets frequent fevers, is exposed to a lot of hot sun, is under unusual stress, or is debilitated in any way. Prescription oral antiviral medications are very effective in reducing the severity and frequency of outbreaks.

Beverly Hills Dermatology Consultants

433 N. Camden Drive, Suite 805   Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Tel: 310-550-7661   |   Fax: 310-550-1920


2 thoughts on “Herpes/cold sores/fever blisters

  1. I have had a fever blister on my lower lip for more than two weeks. I have taken two courses of Valtrex without improvement. I am just getting over a cold that lasted a week. The blister just won’t heal and about every other day feels like it’s a bit swollen again. Don’t know what else to do.

    • Hi Laura,
      Try to keep the area clean and dry. When you shower don’t hesitate to wash the area gently with antibacterial soap. Dry it completely after washing your face, preferably with a hair dryer set at cool to get out as much moisture as possible then apply rubbing alcohol to the area throughout the day to keep it dry. Herpes breakouts also do not like cold so as much as possible, hold some ice cubes in a plastic baggie with a paper towel around it to the area several times throughout the day. Additionally try to avoid excess stress, direct sunlight, and make sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. It is also helpful to put on a liquid antiseptic because these lesions frequently get a secondary bacterial infection. Any one of the over-the-counter antiseptics that contain benzalkonium chloride will be helpful. If however the sore worsens or spreads, it may mean that it has turned into impetigo which is a spreading bacterial infection that requires prescription medication, either topical or oral antibiotics. If this happens, you should see a dermatologist.

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