How long do cold sores last?

From the time of the first tingle, a cold sore will take between 7 and 10 days to completely heal - sometimes up to 14 days. Each cold sore goes through several stages before it disappears.

In the vast majority of cases, the sore will heal without scarring.

The lifespan of a cold sore

The life of a cold sore evolves through five stages, from the first tingling to healing and fading away.

Days 1-2: You feel a tingling for anything from a few hours to a whole day. As the cold sore starts to develop, you may notice your skin feeling as if it is tightening, too. The area begins to become red as the infection gets more established.

Days 2-4: A blister or cluster of blisters develops as your body fights the cold sore virus. The blisters contain millions of virus particles, so try to avoid bursting them as you could spread the infection. Instead, wait for them to burst naturally.

Day 4: Blisters burst, leaving a raw shallow ulcer, often with a very noticeable inflamed ring. This stage is when most people say their cold sores are most painful. Using Prevasore at this stage helps to keep your lips well hydrated.

Days 5-10: The cold sores begin to dry out. A crust appears that's often yellowy in colour. When the scab appears, the cold sore starts to heal, but the crust may crack when you move your mouth and this will delay healing.

What's more, the cracks can bleed and you may experience an uncomfortable burning feeling. They may also become very itchy, but it’s important to resist the urge to pick as that will delay healing and cause more itching and soreness.

Days 8-10 (sometimes up to 14): As healing progresses, the scab will start to drop off. You may still have some minor swelling and some red/pink colouration, but this will disappear.

Your questions answered

Q. How long does a cold sore take to develop?

A. From the time you first feel a tingling sensation on your lips to having fully developed blisters, takes around two to four days.

Q. How long do cold sores take to heal?

A. Cold sore healing only starts once the blisters burst and the liquid is released. If you are careful not to touch the scabs with your fingers or tongue, they shouldn’t crack and healing should be completed in about three days. If they do crack or are allowed to dry out, the healing time may extend to as much as nine days.

Using Prevasore will help keep cold sores moisturised and make the crusty scabs less likely to crack. This will soothe the discomfort and promote healing.

Q. How long do cold sores take to go away?

A. An outbreak will normally disappear within a couple of weeks, but unfortunately, once you’ve contracted the Herpes Simplex Virus, the virus will never go away completely. Once you’ve had your first cold sore, you are likely to experience outbreaks from time to time. But taking care of your lips and keeping them properly moisturised can help make them less frequent.

Q. How long does the cold sore virus live outside the body?

A. The herpes virus from cold sores can survive for up to four hours on plastic, three on cloth and two on skin1. So be careful to wash or dispose of anything that comes into contact with a cold sore.

1. http://www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/how-long-do-bacteria-and-viruses-live-outside-the-body.aspx

 

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