Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0
Cold Sores (Fever Blisters) (for Teenagers)
- a cluster of painful 1- to 3-mm bumps or blisters on the
- on one side of the mouth only
- tingling or burning on the outer lip at the same site
where cold sores previously occurred.
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (usually
Type 1). The first bout follows contact with someone with
herpes. Thereafter, the cold sores recur in 2 percent of
people when the virus (which lives in the sensory nerve) is
reactivated by sunburn, fever, friction, or physical
The blisters will rupture, scab over, and dry up. The whole
process takes 10 to 14 days. The sores do not cause scars.
Treatment can shorten the course by many days.
- Antiviral ointment
Once you get fever blisters, you usually can't shorten
the time that you have them unless you start applying an
antiherpes ointment as soon as any small bumps appear.
These ointments require a prescription. If you don't
have an antiherpes ointment, cover the fever blisters
with petroleum jelly to reduce the pain and to promote
You need the ointment prescribed by your physician. The
ointment can reduce the severity of the sores only if
treatment is started early.
Since fever blisters are often triggered by exposure to
intense sunlight, prevent them in the future by using a
lip balm containing sunscreen. If blisters are not yet
present, apply an ice cube or ice pack to the tingly
area continuously for 90 minutes. This will sometimes
abort the infection.
Avoid spreading this germ to another person's eye,
because an infection there can be serious. Therefore,
don't picking at the sore, and wash your hands
frequently. Since the condition is contagious, avoid
kissing other people during this time.
If you are going skiing or to the beach and have had
frequent herpes flareups in the past, despite careful
use of sunscreen, call your physician. Recent research
has found that starting oral antiherpes medication
(pills) before such outings can prevent most flareups.
CALL YOUR PHYSICIAN DURING OFFICE HOURS IF:
- Any sores occur near the eye.
- The sores last longer than 2 weeks.
- You have questions about antiherpes ointments.
- You have other concerns or questions.