Cold sores often begin with a tingling or burning sensation before tiny blisters start on or near the lips. A cold sore is usually gone within a week or two and can be really upsetting while it lasts.

How Do You Know If You Have a Cold Sore?

  • The first sign is a burning, tingling or itching feeling in the skin where the cold sore will erupt. If you have had a cold sore before, you will recognize this feeling as soon as it starts.
  • Cold sores then develop as small blisters on the lips or around the mouth but can occur anywhere on the face. These blisters are filled with fluid.
  • The blisters burst and crust over to form a scab.
  • The scab gradually heals and is usually gone about 7–10 days after it started.


First published on:
Reviewed and edited by: Dr Anna Cantlay
Last updated: October 2020

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