WHAT ARE THE STAGES OF A COLD SORE?

When you have a cold sore, you’ll notice that every day is a new adventure. But you’ll be ready. Believe it or not, one cold sore typically goes through 5 stages during its 8-10 day course, and sometimes it can hang around for up to 2 weeks. When you start using Abreva® cream at the first tingle, you can help shorten the healing time of your cold sore cycle. It’s the only non-prescription medication approved by the FDA that is proven to shorten healing time.

The First Tingle - Cold Sore Stages

The First Tingle    Days 1–2

Known as The Early Stage, this is when you’ll feel those first few symptoms — the first tingle and maybe an itching and/or burning sensation. You might feel like this is more the “Tingle Stage” and it might last a few hours up to a full day. Your skin could feel like it’s tightening where your cold sore is forming. The area becomes red and swollen because of the inflammatory reaction to the infection.

Above the Surface - Cold Sore Stages

Above the Surface      Days 2–4

This is The Blister Stage — when you can first see the blister. It probably looks like a group of small, painful lumps that may multiply and/or grow. As your body tries to fight your cold sore, white blood cells travel to the blister to help fight the infection. When this is happening, your cold sore blister fills with fluid that contains millions of virus particles.

Goodbye, Blister - Cold Sore Stages

Goodbye, Blister     Day 4

This may be the most painful stage of your outbreak, but it’ll only last around one day. During The Ulcer Stage, the blisters burst and a shallow ulcer (open sore) develops. You may also see a red ring of inflammation around the affected area.

Almost Gone - Cold Sore Stages

Almost Gone   Days 5–8

During The Scabbing Stage, your cold sore dries out and a golden-brown crust appears, forming a scab. As your scab shrinks, you may experience painful cracks that can bleed. You may feel severe itching and burning during this stage, too.

Knocked Out - Cold Sore Stages

Getting Back to Normal      Days 8–10

Finally, it’s time for your cold sore to heal during The Healing Stage. As your scab starts to come off, you may notice some dry flaking and residual swelling. Your skin may also remain slightly pink or red.

Stages of cold sores