Small blisters around your mouth or lips mean you have a cold sore. It’s common in those areas, but you can also get a cold sore on your nose, chin, eyelid and cheeks. These blisters itch and/or hurt and are caused by an infection (also called the herpes virus). 1 in 3 people suffer from occasional cold sores. Some people will suffer from these regularly or often. Cold sores are unpleasant and can also cause troublesome symptoms. Especially because they are clearly visible.
If you have a cold sore, you may experience:
- A red blistered patch on the lips, mouth, nose, chin, or eyelid.
- An itch.
- A burning sensation where the cold sore is.
- Pain where the cold sore is.
- Scabs once the blisters have dried up. The blisters usually dry up after 2 days.
Cold sores are contagious. Cold sores are harmless for most people, but can be dangerous for some high risk groups. These are people with a compromised immune system, people with extensive eczema and newborn babies less than 1 year old. To prevent a cold sore spreading, it’s important that you:
- Don’t touch the cold sore.
- Regularly wash your hands with soap and water. Dry your hands well afterwards.
- Thoroughly wash your cups, plates and cutlery. Don’t let anyone else use these.
- Use your own towel and toothbrush. Make sure no one else uses these.
- Don’t kiss or cuddle.
- Don’t have oral sex (sex with the mouth).
- Don’t scratch the scabs. They will fall off on their own. This prevents scarring.
Cold sores will go away on their own and will usually disappear after around 10 days. However, if you find them particularly bothersome, you can buy medication at the chemist or pharmacy. They can help you find the right product. Please note: these products usually won’t be able to reduce or cure all symptoms.
You should contact your GP if:
- The blisters are not gone after two weeks.
- The cold sore looks worse or different than usual.
- You develop blisters around your eyelid.
- You get a red and painful eye. You are sensitive to light.
- You develop blisters on your penis or vagina.
- Your newborn baby has or develops blisters.
- Your baby becomes ill after being in contact with someone who had a cold sore.
- You have severe symptoms and the cream prescribed by your GP doesn’t work.