Cold sores are common and usually clear up on their own within 10 days. Cold sores are contagious until they go away.
Cold sores are small blisters that develop on the lips or around the mouth, caused by the herpes simplex virus. You will not usually notice any symptoms when you are first infected. When the outbreak of cold sores does happen, the symptoms are:
- A tingling, itching or burning sensation around your mouth
- Small fluid-filled sores, commonly on the edge of the lower lip
- Sore throat
Cold sores will usually clear up without treatment and without any scarring, however, anti-viral cold sore creams can be bought over the counter which may speed up the healing time of a cold sore infection.
Cold sore creams are most effective if they are applied as soon as symptoms develop and before the blisters appear. Using an anti-viral cream after this initial period is unlikely to have much effect.
The NHS Choices website offers further advice and information on cold sores.