Oral herpes outbreaks, often referred to as cold sores or fever blisters, are caused by the herpes simplex type 1 virus (HSV-1). Many people who carry HSV-1 do not exhibit any symptoms, however for some, symptoms can be severe and may require treatment.
Fatigue, stress, UV exposure and illnesses that weaken the immune system are some of the most common triggers of a cold sore outbreak.
Laser skin resurfacing, particularly aggressive treatments near the mouth, may also trigger herpes outbreaks, so it is important to let your doctor know if you are prone to cold sores prior to undergoing laser treatment.
After the herpes virus is contracted, some patients never exhibit symptoms, while others exhibit symptoms so mild they do not recognize them as cold sore virus symptoms. However, many patients experience moderate to several cold sore outbreaks that are unsightly and may result in weeks of facial disfigurement.
Before a cold sore occurs, pain or tingling in the lip or lip border will occur. This is known as the prodrome phase and typically lasts for one to two days, after which time, cold sore blisters form and last for one to two weeks.
Cold sore blisters are usually painful and appear red, raised and fluid-filled on your upper or lower lip. Eventually, blisters pop, ooze, then crust over and flake off before they completely disappear.