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Cold Sore Stages

There’s nothing like a cold sore for ruining your mood and knocking down your confidence. These unsightly blisters on your lip or mouth, sometimes called fever blisters, can take a week or more to clear up on their own. Knowing the beginning stages of cold sores can help you minimize discomfort and speed up healing at each stage. Recognizing the early signs, even before the blister appears, lets you fight back with Abreva® Cream to reduce how long your cold sore lasts, and Abreva Rapid Pain Relief helps relieve your pain from the first use until your cold sore heals.

Keep reading to discover the typical cold sore stages with pictures, from the first tingle to when it’s fully healed.


Always keep a tube of Abreva® Cream with you so you can apply it at the first sign of cold sore. For best results, apply five times a day.

* Median healing time 4.1 days. 25% of users healed in 2½ days.


For instant relief, put ice in a bag and wrap in a thin cloth before placing it on the area for no longer than 20 minutes. Ice slows blood flow to the affected skin, reducing the inflammation, swelling, and nerve activity that leads to discomfort.iv


Use a disposable applicator such as a cotton swab to apply Abreva® Cream, sunscreen, lip balm, or make-up to your cold sore or the surrounding area.


Don’t pick or peel the scab as you may damage the delicate, new skin underneath, slowing the healing process, and even leading to scarring. Let the scab fall off naturally.


Check whether or not you need to buy more Abreva® so you’re prepared for the next tingle.


1. Cold Sores. Cleveland Clinic. Accessed 05/12/19.

2. Cold sore: diagnosis and treatment. Mayo Clinic. Accessed 08/28/19.

3. Cold Sore Outbreak? Pharmacy Times. Accessed 09/17/2019.

4. Cold Sores/Fever Blisters. University Health Services, The University of Texas, Accessed 05/12/19.