Cold sore symptoms can sometimes take as long as 20 days to appear after exposure to the virus. At the onset of a cold sore, people usually experience a tingling or numbness sensation on and around the lips. The tingling sensation is a warning sign that a cold sore will appear at that spot. Some people don't experience any warning that a cold sore is coming and can go to bed without having any symptoms and wake up with a full blown cold sore.

Cold Sore Lifespan

At the beginning of the outbreak there is usually some pain and discomfort in the area of the cold sore. At first the cold sore appears as a cluster of red tiny blisters that oozes a yellow liquid for the first few days. The cold sore then begins to crust over and turn into a scab. The flare-up may also be accompanied by a fever, exhaustion, or aches and pains. If the fever reaches over 100 degrees fahrenheit or if the cold sore begins to ooze a thick white fluid, this could indicate a bacterial infection and a skin care practitioner should be consulted as soon as possible. The entire healing process can take anywhere from one to two weeks.

Areas Cold Sores can Appear

Cold sores don't just affect the lips they can also appear around the nostrils, in the mouth, or in extreme cases even in the eyes. Cold sores in the eyes, ocular herpes, are the one of the biggest dangers associated with cold sores. People who have this condition should visit a skin care practitioner immediately for treatment as it can lead to blindness. Although cold sores should be left to run their natural course, if symptoms last for more than 14 days a skin care professional should be consulted.