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FALSE. HSV-1 is a form of the herpes simplex virus that usually affects the lips or mouth, but can spread to the eyes or genitals. This does not mean you have genital herpes as this is caused by the other form of the virus, HSV-2.

FALSE. HSV-1 is a form of the herpes simplex virus that usually affects the lips or mouth, but can spread to the eyes or genitals. This does not mean you have genital herpes as this is caused by the other form of the virus, HSV-2.

FALSE. Cold sores are contagious from the first tingle until completely healed.

FALSE. Cold sores are contagious from the first tingle until completely healed.

Young woman covering her nose and mouth

Can You Get Cold Sores on Your Nose? – Nose Cold Sores & Other Nose Conditions

Pretty much everyone has heard of cold sores. They're fairly common, if frustrating, blisters that appear near or around your mouth. But can cold sores appear elsewhere too like on your nose? Let's explore the answer to find out whether or not you can get cold sores near or on your nose and other conditions that may cause nose irritation. 

Can you get nose cold sores?

Yes. Believe it or not, you can get cold sores in areas other than the most common spots near the mouth and lips. You can also get cold sore blisters on or around your nose and chin as well as on the lips and skin around the mouth. These nose cold sores should behave the same way a cold sore near the mouth does.1 Just like mouth cold sores, cold sores under the nose develop over time. These nose cold sore symptoms include:1

  • Itching and tingling near your nose a day or two before the cold sore shows up
  • Small, painful blisters form under, beside, or on your nose
  • The blisters burst on their own after a few days, then crust over
  • The blisters scab over, fall off, and heal after a period of about 10 days

Cold sores are caused by certain strains of the herpes simplex virus and can spread from contact with someone infected with the cold sore virus. Once infected, the virus typically lies dormant in nerve cells in the skin on your face. It depends on where the virus travels as to what part of the face the virus lives in and then comes back when you get a cold sore outbreak. Cold sores outbreaks can be triggered by the same things as cold sores near the mouth, such as viral infections, hormonal changes, stress, environmental exposure, injuries, fatigue, and more.2

What to do if you get a nose cold sore

First, don't panic! A nose cold sore is just like any other, even if located somewhere else. Cold sores aren't generally dangerous and don’t cause permanent damage to the skin. Make sure to avoid picking your scab or popping the cold sore blister, which can increase the risk of secondary infections or scarring.1 When you have a cold sore, make sure to wash your hands after touching your face and do not share any items that may touch your face to prevent spreading the cold sore virus.

You can use soothing creams or ice to treat the symptoms of the cold sores, but you can't outright cure nose cold sores. You can also use treatments like Abreva Cream to help heal your cold sore quicker when used at the first signs of an emerging cold sore.

Other reasons for scabs or irritation near your nose

While irritation and blisters near your nose may be a cold sore, it's not the only condition that can cause irritation around your nose. Talk to your doctor and look into other irritation-causing conditions before deciding it's truly cold sores. Some causes of irritation near your nose include:3

Nose Injuries: The most obvious reason for irritation or scabs around your nose are nose injuries. If you run into something or fall on your face and injure your nose, it’s likely you'll have some degree of pain, swelling, and scabbing of injuries.

Inflammation: Nose inflammation can sometimes cause scabbing if you repeatedly rub your nose and cause an abrasion. Inflammation can be caused by allergies, sinusitis, or other chronic inflammatory conditions.

Dryness and Temperature Changes: Either very hot or cold environments as well as very dry air can damage your nasal lining, which may cause scabs or cause irritation.

Infections: It depends on the infection, but some can cause irritation to your nose and scabbing. The skin inside and around your nose is delicate and at risk of irritation.

When to talk to your doctor

Overall, if you're not sure as to what the cause of any blisters, irritation, or pain around or in your nose is, reach out to your doctor. They'll be able to examine and diagnose your condition confidently. In most cases, cold sores don't cause serious complications but you may be at a higher risk you have pre-existing conditions or a weakened immune system. 2 If your cold sore doesn't go away in the normal time span, continues to spread, or gets worse, it's best to talk to your doctor to get help.

Now that you know a little more about nose cold sores, learn more about what cold sores are, how to keep yourself healthy, and how to deal with cold sores more effectively.

SOURCES

1. Cold Sores. Better Health and Human Services. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/cold-sores/ Accessed 1/29/2020. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.

2. Cold Sore. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cold-sore/symptoms-causes/syc-20371017/ Accessed 1/29/2020. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.

3. What are the dangers of nose scabs? ENT Ear Nose & Throat Clinic. https://www.harleystreetent.com/blog/what-are-the-dangers-of-nose-scabs/ Accessed 1/29/2020. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.