Your cold sore can take between 10 and 14 days to heal, and during this time it will go through 5 distinct stages. On this page, Dr. Jen Tan discusses what these stages are, on which days they occur, and how best to treat your cold sore during each stage.
During the 10-14 day healing process, your cold sore will usually go through a relatively predictable 5-stage process. Knowing which stage happens when can help you to make sure you’re doing everything you can to help it heal as quickly as possible and prevent it spreading to others.
This is usually the first indication that you have a cold sore coming on. As the cold sore virus, HSV-1, travels along your nerves to your skin, it can cause a slight tingling, itching or irritation. When the virus reaches your skin it begins to replicate, furthering this irritation.
On days 2-4 of the outbreak, blisters will begin to appear on the lips, usually in the location where tingling was experienced. These usually consist of a cluster of small blisters, rather than one large one. The blisters will be fluid-filled and normally red around the outside.
Bio-Propolis will still be effective at this stage so keep applying it up to 5 times a day – just be careful not to irritate or burst the blisters.
These fluid-filled blisters tend to burst on day 4 or 5 of the outbreak, leaving them open and sore. At this point they tend to merge into one large blister.
It is important at this stage that you do not touch the blisters as this could cause bacteria to enter and trigger a secondary infection. Picking at the sores could also make them larger!
If you do touch the blisters for any reason, make sure to wash your hands immediately afterwards to prevent the sores spreading to other parts of your body, or to other people.
Be wary of face cloths and hand towels during this stage, as these could easily come into contact with the open sore and then another part of your body, such as your eyes. Make sure you don’t share face cloths or hand towels with other people during this stage as you don’t want the virus to spread to them.
You might find it painful or difficult to apply ointment or treatment at this stage, so a cold compress may be a good idea to relieve pain. Make sure to use clean water (preferably boiled and allowed to cool) as well as a clean cloth.
However, if you can, then applying an ointment at this point can be really useful as it stops bacteria and dirt from entering the open sore.
A dry scab or crust will appear over the sores on days 5-8 in order to heal them. These can crack and split, which again can be very painful. Applying Bio-Propolis now will help to keep them moist and protected while they heal.
At this point, the blisters can appear yellow or brown, which can be unpleasant but is normal. Again, it is important not to pick at the blisters at this point as this will slow down the healing process – the scabs are there for a reason!
At some point over the next few days – usually days 8-10 – these scabs will start to flake or peel off on their own, and the skin underneath will usually be slightly red. This red skin can linger for a few more days as your skin fully heals.
Echinacea is a traditional herb known to aid the body in its fight against colds and flu by supporting the immune system – but not all Echinacea is the same! Research shows that the fresher the herb, the more effective the remedy will be, which is why our Echinaforce cold and flu remedies are made using freshly harvested Echinacea.
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