Cold sores are also known as fever blisters that are caused by bacterial infections that can spread from one person to another in different ways such as sharing utensils, sexual intercourse or kissing with infected people. The sores are filled with fluids forming around the mouth. It is very common, while it clears within a couple of weeks in healthy people some do not show symptoms. Although cold sores are frequent and widespread, the number of times an infection can reoccur in a person varies.
Symptoms are usually severe for the first time of infection, creating sores mostly in clusters or groups. There are a number of symptoms experienced during an infection such as burning or itching feeling around the lips a few hours after coming in contact with herpes bacteria. This will cause the lips to painfully swell as they start to form blisters. After forming, sores start bursting to release fluids inside which can either be yellowish or clear in a couple of days.
When the oozing stops, the skin around the sores becomes thick and scabs. During this process, blisters can bleed and crack as they heal. Once the thick skin on top of the sore falls off, a slightly red or extra pink skin is exposed which then will take one or two weeks before healing completely. The exposed skin is normally very sensitive during this healing period. Having cold sores is a sign of oral herpes because they are caused by the same virus that causes herpes in the genital areas.
Once infected by the herpes virus, it remains inactive in the body but can still be activated to cause another infection. Infections that re-occur are not as painful and might not form blisters. Some of the factors that cause re-infection include hormonal changes, sunburn, fever or illness such as a cold.