Duration of cold sores


The herpes simplex virus, which is also responsible for cold sores, is in an inactivated form in a large part of the population. Once a person becomes infected with the virus, it is present in the body for life and outbreaks of the virus can occur at any time, which is known as reactivation. In most cases, this manifests itself as a cold sore, which is noticeable as painful, red blisters on the lip. How long the cold sore occurs and which treatment measures are sensible should now be clarified.

How long does cold sore last?

The duration of the cold sore depends primarily on the treatment and the cause. In any case, the cause is stress. The recurrence of herpes (herpes recurrence) is largely related to the current state of mind. In particular, stress and exhaustion therefore lead to an increased recurrence of cold sores.

The stress hormones enable the virus to multiply faster. In addition, the stress hormones weaken the immune system, which the virus is actually supposed to fight. The duration of the cold sore is about 10 days without treatment. The duration can vary depending on the patient's state of health. The duration can be shortened with treatment and good health. If the general condition of the person has deteriorated, the illness can last longer.

Read more on the subject at: reduce stress

How can I shorten the duration?

On the one hand, one should find the cause of the renewed outbreak of the viral disease. Often there is no specific reason, but stress is often the trigger. In this case, it is important to avoid the stress. If the stress is reduced, the effectiveness of the immune system increases. This will allow the virus to be contained again. There are also various herbal or chemical agents that can be used for treatment. The treatment can shorten the duration by a few days. It is particularly important that the contents of the vesicles do not come into contact with other skin areas or the eyes. The contents of the vesicles are highly contagious! Herpes patches can be used here to cover the blisters.

How long do symptoms appear?

The occurrence of cold sores can be divided into at least five phases.

The first phase is called the prodromal phase (phase before the actual disease). The prodromal phase usually includes symptoms such as tingling, pain and a feeling of tension. However, this phase does not occur in all patients and usually lasts a maximum of one day.

In the next phase the vesicles are already forming. The formation of bubbles takes about 1.5 days.

The vesicles then break, known as ulceration. This results in weeping wounds which can cause pain. The ulceration phase usually lasts half a day to a full day.

Then you can find the open, weeping sores on the lip. This condition lasts between five and six days until the wound is completely encrusted. These crusts can sometimes cause severe itching. The cold sore will eventually heal completely within the last one to two days.

You can find more information on this topic at: Cold sore

How long does the risk of infection last?

There are many virus particles in the fluid in the vesicles. For this reason, care should be taken when the vesicles appear and break. These two phases cover a period of approximately six to eight days. The risk of infection is greatest during this period. However, the crusts can still be contagious. For this reason, it is advisable not to have any physical contact between the lip and other people for the entire duration of the cold sore onset. Therefore, it is important that, at best, no other people are kissed or touched with the infected lip during the entire outbreak.

The virus can also be transmitted through objects. For this reason, it is advisable that sick people do not use the same cutlery as healthy people. Lipsticks or towels should also be used alone during this period. With the help of a herpes patch, the infectiousness can also be limited. The plaster acts like a barrier here, which means that the secretion of the blisters is held back and cannot spread as well.

You can read more about this in our next article: That's how contagious fever blisters are

Duration of treatment with creams

If normal moisturizing cream is used to treat cold sores, it is not expected to shorten the duration of the illness. On the contrary, there is more of a risk that the application of cream will spread the liquid from the blisters and cause an infection in neighboring skin areas.

For this reason, only substances with a virus-inhibiting, antiviral effect should be used. Normal skin creams do not have this antiviral effect and therefore do not fight the spread of the virus. So you can assume the same duration of illness as if you were not treating with creams. This is usually around 10 days.

For more information, see: Cold sore creams

Duration of treatment with Zovirax

Zovirax® is a cream that is used to treat cold sores. The cream consists of the three different ingredients acyclovir, dimethicone and propylene glycol. Acyclovir is a so-called antiviral drug. This means that it prevents the virus from multiplying and thus has a beneficial effect on the course of the disease.

In addition to acyclovir, Zovirax® contains dimeticone and propylene glycol.These active ingredients basically ensure that the cream is quickly absorbed into the skin and that the active ingredient acyclovir can work well. The duration of treatment is set at four days. In most cases, an improvement occurs within this time. However, an additional day or two can be allowed for until the wound has completely healed.

More about this topic can be found: Zovirax®

Duration of treatment with acyclovir

In the treatment with acyclovir, only the antiviral is used. It is not present here in combination with other substances. This inhibits virus replication and leads to healing on average within six to seven days. Acyclovir can be obtained as an infusion, tablet, cream, or ointment. The speed at which acyclovir works can depend on how you take it. For cold sores, it is usually applied as a cream or ointment.

Duration for treatment with Fenistil®

Fenistil® also has no antiviral properties. The effect of Fenistil® unfolds through so-called antihistamines. These antihistamines block the histamine receptors, preventing the histamine from working. Histamine is a substance that is increasingly released when there is inflammation. Due to the antihistaminic properties of Fenistil®, it is mainly used for inflammatory processes such as mosquito bites or burns. With cold sores, the problem is not the inflammation but the virus multiplication within the blisters. Therefore, when using Fenistil®, a shortening of the duration of the illness cannot be assumed.

Duration for treatment with Compeed® / plasters

The herpes plasters are free from active ingredients and do not develop their effect through an antiviral effect. Covering the infected area creates the optimal conditions for wound healing. The moisture inside the patch accelerates healing. In addition, the cold sore is less noticeable after applying the plaster and, in case of doubt, can be covered with make-up. This leads to less psychological stress and thus less stress. The reduced stress then leads to faster healing. According to experience reports, the subjective complaints are also reduced during treatment with a plaster. In most cases, the duration of the illness is reduced by a few days with the treatment of herpes patches.

Read more at: Lip herpes - this is how it is treated properly