The Five Stages of Cold Sore Outbreaks

stages of cold sore outbreaks

Cold sores don’t sudden appear overnight, though it may seem like that. You have warning signs in the form of five stages of cold sore outbreaks.

1st Stage

The first warning sign you may have of a cold sore outbreak is an unexplained tingling in or around the mouth area. Alternatively, the site may itch or burn.

If you are fortunate enough to catch a cold sore during this stage, you can start treatment. It may reduce the duration and severity if you do. Unfortunately, treatment will not stop the sore from forming.

2nd Stage

The next stage of a cold sore outbreak is the appearance of fluid-filled blisters. The skin underneath and around the blisters will be inflamed. This will occur a day or two after you feel the initial tingling.

Even if you are already taking medications for the sore, you need to stay hydrated. Drink lots of water.

Also, once the sores make an appearance, they are highly contagious. Make sure to wash your hands after touching the affected area. And, make sure you avoid intimate contact or sharing drinks and food.

3rd Stage

After a few days of first appearing, the cold sore will rupture. The open sore will be shallow and swollen. Your sores will be the most contagious during this time. Continue to take precautions to avoid spreading it to other areas of your body or other people.

4th Stage

The dried-out blister will look brown or yellow in color. This is called the crusting stage. This is the time to use topical zinc therapy or compresses. Avoid picking at the crusted blister.

5th Stage

Finally, during the healing stage, the blister will scab over and flake away. Try using creams that have zinc oxide or aloe vera to reduce irritation and keep the scab soft.

According to the Mayo Clinic, these signs and symptoms can change. It depends on whether it is a reoccurrence episode or your first outbreak.

Final Thoughts

Taking care of cold sore outbreaks may be a nuisance, but they can be handled with ease if you know what to expect. Pay attention to the 5 stages of cold sore outbreaks, and figure out what stage you are on. That way, you can take care of yourself appropriately.