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5 Destructive Cold Sore Stages
Cold sore stages normally follow a predictable pattern, but they may be slightly different for you. Let us take a look.
The most desirable of all stages of a cold sore, if there is such a thing, is the latent stage. The herpes virus is asleep and hiding in the nerve ganglia. There are no symptoms and no problems. Nearly a third of all who are infected with these herpes simplex viruses will never experience the active cold sore stages mentioned next. A blood test would be the only way of knowing if they carry this virus, or its anti-bodies. For the rest of us, read on.
1. PRODROME - During this beginning stage of a cold sore, the herpes virus senses the conditions are right for successful replication. It will then wake up and move to the surface of your face through the fibers of the nerve it originally picked as home. You can actually feel the virus movement as a tingling, itching sensation. Some report a burning or dryness. The next stage will occur anywhere between 2 hours and 2 days. You can delay, or even prevent, the virus from replicating by applying a good treatment at this stage. My suggestion is to get ice on the target area as soon as you feel these warning symptoms.
2. INFLAMMATION and PRE-SORE - During this stage of a cold sore, the virus particles enter the nerve cells. The irritation causes swelling and redness. The sore vesicles appear. These are small pimple-like red blisters that break out individually or in groups. They are quite painful to the touch. Additional symptoms that first appear at this stage are headaches, fever and swollen glands.
3. OPEN SORE - At this stage of a cold sore, the vesicles break open and merge into a single, big, open ulcer. This is probably the most painful stage. It definitely is the most contagious stage as a clear fluid weeps from the sore. This thick fluid is absolutely teeming with new virus that can easily infect another area of your own body, or someone else. Do not touch the sore with your fingers - use an alcohol soaked tissue. And do not kiss anyone, anywhere.
4. CRUST AND SCAB - At this cold sore stage, a yellowish crust or scab will form over the open wound. Still very painful at this stage, it is even more painful when you move your mouth and the scab cracks. Also, highly contagious fluid will weep out each time. As new skin forms under the crust, itching, pain and much discomfort will continue. The scab may fall off and re-form one or more times during this healing period. The herpes virus is now retreating back into hiding until the next opportune moment.
5. POST SCAB AND FINAL HEALING - At this cold sore stage your scab is gone and the new skin is visible. Under the new skin, however, healing continues as the millions of destroyed cells are replaced. There usually is redness in the area until this healing is complete. This could take from 2 to 15 days, depending on your healing speed and any concurrent stress situations. The waiting makes this the most frustrating stage of a cold sore.
These stages and symptoms occur over a period of about three to four weeks, depending on your current health level, stress, and the care you apply. They are not pleasant and can be dangerous if caution is not taken. Careful personal hygiene and maintaining a high level of social responsibility will greatly reduce the risk and effects of each of the cold sore stages.
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