Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,
I keep getting blisters on my lip about the time of my menstrual period. The blister does not crop up every month, but it does appear often enough that it is annoying and especially bothersome when I am going on a date. What can I do to stop this from happening? Should I see the doctor and get some type of shot?
Bothered by blisters
Dear Bothered by blisters,
Cold sores or fever blisters affects 50 to 80% of people in the United States and is caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1). Herpes simplex virus type 2 mainly causes genital herpes.
Cold sores are most common around the lips, but can appear on the nose, chin, or cheeks. CureResearch.com estimates that about 136 million people in the U.S. have had a cold sore (www.cureresearch.com/c/cold_sores/prevalence.htm).
Cold sores are contagious, so be careful about spreading the virus and avoid kissing, sharing drinking glasses, towels, lip balms, and utensils. If you touch the blister, then wash your hands with soap and water. After washing and drying your face, use clean towels each time until the blister is healed.
In addition, because HSV1 can be life-threatening to someone who has a weak immune system, it is best to avoid close contact with newborns and people who have HIV, AIDS, cancer, an organ transplant, or major illness.
There is neither a cure for cold sores nor any vaccine to prevent them, but there are ways to keep cold sores from occurring as often. Cold sore recurrence is often triggered by stress, sun exposure, fever, or menstruation. To help avoid recurrence of cold sores get plenty of rest and wear sunscreen on your face and a lip balm with SPF 15 or higher all year 'round.
COLD SORE SYMPTOMS
1. Pain, itch, or tingling in the area prior to the blisters appearing.
2. Tiny cluster of blisters appear one or two days later.
3. Clear fluid filled blisters ooze, forming a yellow crust.
COLD SORE TREATMENT
1. Cold sores will heal on their own in 7 to 10 days.
2. Over-the-counter topical cold sore treatments such as Abreva, Carmex, Campho-Phenique, Herpecin-L, Novitra, Releev, or Zilactin-L may help relieve symptoms and reduce healing period if used as soon as pain or tingling begins.
3. If the cold sore does not heal with 10 days, see your doctor.
4. Speak to your doctor about an antiviral medication if frequent recurrence of cold sores is a problem. The antiviral medication can shorten the healing period and reduce the size of the blisters.