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Cold Sore Stages

5 stages of a cold sore

  • Tingle Stage

    Symptoms

    • burning
    • numbness
    • pain
    • tenderness
    • tingling & itching

    What you should know

    This stage may last from a few hours (six hours) to a few days

  • Blister stage

    Symptoms

    small group of lumps

    What you should know

    The blisters are filled with fluid that contains millions of virus particles

  • Weeping stage

    Symptoms

    fluids begins to leak out

    red ring of inflamed skin around infected area

    What you should know

    If is especially important during this stage to take precautions to help prevent the spread of the virus to others.

  • Scabbing Stage

    Symptoms

    • crust begins to develop
    • cold sore starts to dry out
    • cracks begin to develop
    • bleeding
    • itching & burning
  • Healing stage

    Symptoms

    scab starts to flack and fall off

    What you should know

    The entire cold sore outbreak usually lasts seven to twelve days.

So, what can you do?

Studies show that shortening the scabbing and healing stages by keeping the cold sore moist can expedite the cold sore lifecycle.

Patches that use hydrocolloid technology, such as POLYSPORIN® Cold Sore Healing Patches, can be used to maintain a moist environment and shorten the scabbing and healing stages.

There are five main stages of a cold sore outbreak. The first is the ‘Tingle stage’ and this is when the early symptoms such as burning, numbness, pain, tenderness, tingling, and itching begin to appear.

This stage may last for a few hours (six hours) to a few days. It may also feel like your skin is starting to tighten in the area where the cold sore is forming. You may even notice the area becoming swollen and red.

Next is the ‘Blister stage’ and this is when the blister actually appears. It initially looks like a small group of lumps that grow and multiply. The blisters are filled with fluid that contains millions of virus particles.

The ‘Weeping stage’, also known as the ulcer stage, is next and this is when the blister bursts. It usually lasts one day.

Once the blister bursts, the fluid will begin to leak out of it and you may notice a red ring of inflamed skin around the infected area. It is especially important during this stage to take precautions to help prevent the spread of the virus to others.

The ‘Scabbing stage’ starts after the weeping stage and this is when crust begins to develop and the cold sore starts to dry out. As the scab gets smaller, you may notice cracks begin to develop, which may even bleed. Itching and burning may also return during this stage.

The last stage is the ‘Healing stage’ and this is when the scab starts to flack and fall off and clear up. The entire cold sore outbreak usually lasts seven to twelve days.

Studies show that shortening the scabbing and healing stages by keeping the cold sore moist can expedite the cold sore lifecycle.

Patches that use hydrocolloid technology, such as POLYSPORIN® Cold Sore Healing Patches, can be used to maintain a moist environment and shorten the scabbing and healing stages.