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How Long Does a Cold Sore Last?

How Long do Cold Sores Last?

While it may feel like an eternity, cold sores normally last somewhere between 7 and 12 days.

However once you know the stages of a cold sore, you can use this knowledge to heal the cold sore more effectively and speed up the healing process.

There are three distinct phases the cold sore goes through. Understanding these and how to respond to them is vital to getting rid of them.

The Pre Cold Sore

Before you even see the cold sore, you may feel it. You may notice tingling and tenderness around your mouth or lips, and have a fever, a sore throat, or swollen glands.

If you are susceptible to getting cold sores these are the warning signs, so you should make sure you are stocked up on cold sore treatment.

It is also at this stage that cold sore creams, ointments or patches will be most effective. The earlier that you begin using a cold sore treatment, the less severe the cold sore will likely be.

The Blister Stage

From around day two onward the cold sore blister will become visible, and the skin around the cold sore will be red and sore.

The first couple of days when the cold sore is visible are important. Be careful about spreading the virus to other parts of your body or other people. (You can find tips for preventing cold sores here).

The Aftermath

After those first three days, virus levels begin to fall, but the cold sore may remain visible for perhaps a week or longer, forming an ulcer then a scab or a crust.

To help reduce any embarrassment associated with the visible signs of a cold sore on your lip, you can try products that aid in concealing the cold sore and speeding up the healing of the wound. It is best to begin using these products at the early stages of cold sore for the best results.

Cold sore healing patches can help protect the wound but also provide a moist environment conducive to speeding up the healing process.

As an added bonus they also make it possible to apply make-up over the cold sore – you can read more about concealing a cold sore here.

While the length of these stages will vary, this is the pattern that many cold sores follow.  Once you understand what treatments work most effectively for you and you apply them at the first signs of a cold sore, you’re well on the way to speeding up the whole process.