Various Stages of Cold Sore blister

There are 5 stages of cold sore. These are tingle stage, blister stage, ulcer stage/weeping stage, crusting stage/ scabbing stage and healing stage. Cold sore lasts for 8-10 days but in some cases, it may last for 2weeks. Ulcer stage which is also known as weeping stage is the most painful and contagious of all the stages.

Early Stage/ Tingle Stage/Prodrome Stage

This stage lasts for few hours or 1-2days. It is hardly even noticed. In this stage, a person feels a tingling or a burning sensation. That is why it is also known as tingle stage. Before it becomes visible, the skin starts getting tightened in the area where the cold sore is about to be formed. Due to the infection, inflammation occurs and that area becomes red and swollen. The infection can spread even at this stage so the patient should avoid any kind of physical contact. This marks the first stage of the cold sores as the virus is heading towards the outer surface layer of the neural tissue cells.

Blister Stage

The cold sore blister appears in the region within twelve to thirty six hours.  The first sign which is seen is a fluid filled blister which is very small in size and they usually form in a cluster. Individual blisters may coalesce with others to form a single larger blister.

The patient will see the swelling at the fever blister site along with the development of little, hard and pimple-like protuberances that are highly painful. Fever, headaches and a general feeling of tiredness is common to notice at this stage. Lymph glands present under the jaw also begin to swell. White blood cells  which fights the infections of the body travel to the blister. These cold sore blister contains millions of virus particles. This stage lasts from 2nd to 4th day.

Ulcer Stage/ Weeping Stage

The tiny hard elevations now swell, burst open and coalesce to make up a huge open up ulcer. Its surface becomes gray.  A ring of inflammation which is red in color can be seen around the area which is affected. Fever, running nose and head pains are other common symptoms associated with this point of the stage. This part is the most painful time of this stage. This is the most contagious stage. The lymphatic nodules are quite well edematous as felt under the surface of the lower jaw which might be quite painful. This stage is seen on day 4.

Crusting / Scabbing Stage

In this stage, the ulcer becomes dry and will scab in the areas where the lesion is not kept moist by the saliva from the oral cavity. It will scab over with a brownish crush and is accompanied by itching or burning sensation. The scab may crack which further causes bleeding. This stage can be seen from day 5 to day 8.

Healing Stage

In the healing stage, a number of scabs are formed on the lesion which subsequently flakes off. Every new scab will be shorter than the earlier one. And finally the cold sore will resolve completely. Frequently no scar formation occurs. The skin may remain slightly pink or red.The symptoms like headaches, fever and edematous lymph glands start healing by now. Itching and irritation of the cold sore are still experienced even though the healing process continues. This stage can be seen from day 9-day12. Healing continues underneath the new skin which is a constant source of tingling and redness present in the area for another week or more. This stage of the cold sore is still infectious and can cause them to re-occur very fast. The body temperature and the head pains are nearly gone by this time. The swollen lymphatic nodules are greatly decreased by this time.

While still in the final stage of their life cycle the fever blister can tend to come back. This time is perfect to use your best cold sore treatment at this stage. The fever blisters can easily spread from one person to another or from one part of the body of the infected person to another site in the same patient.

Pay attention and be careful as the cold sore virus is very infectious from the first irritation the complete absence of the fever blister signs and symptoms.
Cold sores are not just restricted to the mouth and lips but can also occur on nose, eyes and even hands.

Picture of Cold Sore on the nose



 User Comments on -  Various Stages of Cold Sore blister

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Posted By : Gav on 23-Jun-2012 01:13 AM
I was very worried I may have got cold sores after close contact with a girl. I washed my lips excessively, also licked them. A day later I started getting dried cracks on the lower lip and tingling sensation on upper lip. I had a horse throat etc. The chapped lips flaked after a week and the I used lip balm. The tingling still persisted on the upper lip for two weeks. I started getting neck pain an sore throat. I felt I was getting bit excessive saliva. Now after three weeks the neck pains have vanished, the lip is nearly healed. I was feeling sick during that period. Can only chapped lips cause so much trouble or is it herpes? I saw no visible pimple like blisters!

Posted By : Dr.Ritz on 28-May-2012 10:43 PM
SARAH, oral herpes is mostly caused by Herpes Simplex Virus-1 but never rule out HSV-2. the symptoms of herpes include: 1. Blisters formation on the lips and tongue. 2. The blisters eventually rupture as painful open sores, develop a yellowish membrane before healing, and disappear within 3 - 14 days. 3. Increased salivation and foul breath. 4. Rarely, the infection may be accompanied by difficulty in swallowing, chills, muscle pain, or hearing loss. I would suggest you to visit the doctor and get it checked and treated

Posted By : sarah212 on 28-May-2012 10:18 PM
I kissed this guy about 3 week ago and last week someone told me that the guy has herpes but they did not say if it was type 1 or type 2 herpes......... this morning i got like a botton on my lip and on in my nose and i'm really scared.... it doesn't look like the other cold sores that i have seen but it a botton and I'm not getting any other symptoms so you think i have herpes?? I'm scared to death

Posted By : Joe on 19-May-2012 05:24 PM
Laser treatment. Find a dentist in your area that can perform it. If you get it early.. can shorten it to only a few days. Also it stays away much longer. Worth it!

Posted By : Betsy on 19-May-2012 05:03 PM
Kassie, there is prescription Zovirax cream that can be effective, but is spendy. I was just informed about an OTC product, Lysine, which are pills that you can take. Lysine is an essential amino acid that you can get through certain foods. It is most effective to begin taking at the first tingle (but can still shorten duration if sore is already present). Taking between 3-7 grams per day (over multiple times) during the outbreak is effective. This is really cheap too!

Posted By : Kassie on 03-May-2012 07:06 AM
Hello, I Have a cold sore on my upper lip, I had a headache a few days ago, that was sevier, along with a cold that im trying to get over, Anyhow, I Got some Abreva, and that seemed to make it 10 times worse, so it spread a little, I Also got some of the Lypsyl, Extreme cold sore relief, And it seems to be working, Is there anything else that i can do to keep getting it to go away, Also how long until its not contagious Anymore! Thanks

Posted By : james on 11-Mar-2012 05:14 PM
@Elsa yes it's herpes, type 1, hsv2 is the genital kind but type one affects the mouth region. Dont worry, having type one does not mean you have type 2, i highly suggest you start taking 500-1000mg of Lysine everyday for the rest of your life. Lysine will help dramatically reduce the occurence and severity of the cold sore. I got my first two just now after a year being in a continous loop of outbreaks non stop for 4-6 months before that, i just got lazy and stopped taking them. I was stressed out last week then BOOM, got two on my lip and i was in a lot more stress 5 months ago dealing with a skin parasite! Increased Lysine intake will over power Argerine in your body which the virus feeds off of, cut out all grains, nuts and chocolate as they are high in Argerine. I highly reccommend using Lysine, 2500mg a day during the outbreak. Youtube or google "Lysine cold sore", it's truly amazing how this nutrient is vital when it comes to having HSV1! -your welcomed in advanced ;)

Posted By : Dr Ritz on 03-Mar-2012 09:54 AM
Sarah, You have not written whether you have other symptoms like fever, headache etc. If you have them then it can be cold sore otherwise it can be apthous ulcer or canker sore which is self limiting and heals in 7-10 days. From your description to me, it looks more like apthous ulcer than cold sore.

Posted By : Sarah on 02-Mar-2012 11:23 AM
I've never (until yesterday) had any symptoms but, went and saw my mom last week and at the time she had a cold sore. She thought that once they were surfaced they were not contagious so, I shared off her plate and tasted her coffee and now I have a single fluid filled bump on my lower lip. It is day two and it is painful and about the size of a half a grain of rice. Is this a cold sore and how likely is it that I will get them again? I lived w/ my fam for 22 yrs and never got a cold sore and now I get one?!?

Posted By : Emmy on 06-Feb-2012 05:24 PM
Elsa, yes it does, but not the herpes you get from sexual contact. The Herpes Simplex 1 is what it's called.

Posted By : Dr Ritz on 06-Feb-2012 10:06 AM
Sherry, Normally the cold sore have weeping or ulcerative and then scabbing stag before healing but if they are chronic they may look like pimple which is scratched. It is better you go to a dentist and get a proper diagnosis made and start with treatment and meds precribed by him.

Posted By : Sherry on 05-Feb-2012 07:43 PM
Do cold sores sometimes look like pimples that skip the weeping and crusting stages? Ive had cold sores for over 20 years and now they just look like small pink colored pimples that have been scratched at. Is this normal?

Posted By : Dr Carl on 28-Jan-2012 12:46 AM
Elsa, Having fever blisters or cold sores means that you have herpes. Fever blisters are caused by herpes simplex 1 virus. Fever blisters are caused by kissing someone infected with virus or can occur because of physical contact with infected person. HSV 1 virus is a common virus (90% of adults have been exposed to this virus) and is different from HSV 2 virus which causes genital herpes.

Posted By : elsa on 27-Jan-2012 05:07 PM
Sooo if i yave a cold blister means that i have herpes?????

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