Cold sore healing is just one phase of a cold sore episode. There are several stages of an outbreak. They are:
1. The prickling stage
2. The inflammation stage
3. The blister stage
4. The weeping stage
5. The scabbing stage
6. The shedding stage
7. The fading stage
1. The Prickling Stage:
When one is prone to cold sores, the first indication of an oncoming sore is a tingling, burning or itching sensation. This is when the Herpes Simplex Virus 1 becomes active and can be described as a prickling sensation.
2. The Inflammation Stage:
The second stage of a cold sore is swelling and redness at the site of infection.
3. The Blister Stage:
Small painful blisters indicate the third stage of a cold sore. They usually form in a cluster in the swollen area.
4. The Weeping Stage:
When the blisters rupture; a yellowish fluid, teeming with the virus, oozes out of the wound. The weeping of the wound is the body’s way of ridding itself of the virus.
Other people and/or parts of your body can be infected easily by simply coming in contact with this fluid.
You can help the cold sore healing process by keeping the wound clean and dry. One way to do this is to soak cotton balls or tissues in alcohol and dab them on the sore.
It is very important to wash your hands every time you handle your cold sores to prevent the virus from spreading.
5. The Scabbing Stage:
The next stage is the scabbing or crusting phase. The healing process starts after the blisters have ruptured and the open sore begins to crust over, forming a scab.
The crusting or scab that occurs is the body’s way of keeping the wound from further infection. The scab may harden, start to crack and may cause painful bleeding that could prolong the time for the cold sore healing process.
You can keep the scab from cracking by applying Vaseline, Neosporin or other topical treatments. If the scab remains soft, the bleeding is minimized and the cold sore heals faster.
6. The Shedding Stage:
The scab will shed normally and be replaced by thinner scabbing as time goes by. As the cold sore healing continues from the inside out, the scab falls off revealing a reddish spot on the skin.
7. The Fading Stage:
The pain and itching of the initial outbreak will subside at this stage but it takes some time for the redness to fade away.
Although it may seem that the cold sore has healed, you are still quite contagious during the fading stage. If the redness of the skin is still visible, it is not safe to assume that you are cold sore free. Each person’s body determines how quickly the red spot fades. It may take anywhere from 2 to 14 days.
You still have to avoid touching the area affected to prevent possible infection of other persons and other parts of your body. The affected area will eventually take on the normal color of your skin.
It is at this time the cold sore healing process is complete. The virus returns to the nerve cells where it becomes inactive; until the conditions exist that allow it to reproduce again.
There are ways to inhibit this viral reproduction and thus prevent outbreaks. One can therefore avoid all of the stages of a cold sore episode.
With proper vitamins and supplements you should be able to stop cold sores before they start.