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If you have ever experienced eruptions of blisters on the outside of your mouth when you are going through a stressful event, you may have cold sores or fever blisters. These are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1 or HSV-2). They are highly contagious, and starting out as blisters and crusting over.

Before you even see them you may feel a tenderness, tingling, or burning before the blister appears. Cold sores typically go away without treatment in about 2-4 weeks, but the virus can live in your body for years. Often, people with the virus never notice any symptoms or signs, and it only manifests as a blister when it is triggered.

Triggers for Cold Sore/Fever Blister

–Emotional Stress

–Weakened immune system


–Viral infection or fever

–Exposure to sunlight and wind

–Hormonal changes (for example, menstruation)

Transmission: Cold sores are most contagious when the blisters are oozing, but the virus can be spread even when you don’t have blisters. The virus can be spread by sharing eating utensils, razors, towels and mouth-to-mouth contact. Once you’ve had a herpes outbreak, the virus lies dormant in the nerve cells in your skin and can show up as another cold sore at the same place as before.

Medication: If you have oral episodes of herpes cold sores, your dentist can help. A dentist can diagnose cold sores herpes through a visual exam, review your medical history, and prescribe medications to lower the outbreaks. The most common medication prescribed is an antiviral drug called acyclovir (Zovirax).  Zovirax comes in cream or ointment form, and is put on a herpes cold sore during any stage of the outbreak to lessen how long you have the cold sores.

Cautions: Because a toothbrush can transmit the virus, it is important to be careful when handling your toothbrush. If you touch it to the edge of a toothpaste tube you can spread the virus to the next toothbrush using the paste. Also, be sure to change your toothbrush after every herpes cold sore outbreak. To avoid spreading the virus, take extra time when wash your hands, especially after putting ointment on sores.

Your dentist may also recommend that you 1) Reduce your stress levels, which is the most common triggers, 2) Boost your immunity with extra Vitamin C or a multivitamin and 3) Use UV protection with SPF15 or more if you spend time in the sunlight.

Please give our team a call at 360-425-8140 for more information or if you need help treating a cold sore outbreak.