Anyone can get cold sore scab, but women and people in their teens and 20s tend to get them more often. It may run into families but luckily, it’s not contagious. When avoiding certain foods to reduce the risk of contracting cold sore scab.
Cold sore scab is skin eruptions occurring about the perimeter of the mouth, lips, and nose or on the mucous membranes within the mouth. Sometimes tingling and numbness may precede or follow these eruptions. The condition affects people of any age.
This lesion is produced by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). It is estimated that 9 of 10 persons have been exposed to HSV-1. This virus may lie dormant within the body for extended periods, reactivating during periods of lowered resistance or emotional and physical stress. Cold sore scab may erupt following a rise in body temperature, such as may occur during a common cold or even preceding menstruation. In some instances, however, they may occur before the onset of illness or for no apparent reason at all.
The characteristic lesions are small, pale vesicles appearing individually or in clusters, especially on the lips or about the mouth. The lesions may also be seen elsewhere. The affected area may burn and sting. The lesions may eventually break, forming ulcers or crusts. The crust then falls off and the redness goes away. The whole process takes about 10 to 14 days.
The diagnosis is made on the basis of the individual’s characteristic lesions. The virus may need to be isolated by histologic examination of the scrapings.
Treatment is strictly symptomatic. The drug valacyclovir will shorten the outbreak and lessen recurrence. The lesions should be kept as dry and clean as possible and protected from trauma. Topical analgesics or ointments containing docosanol or benzalkonium chloride may be applied to relieve burning and itching and increase healing. Antibiotic ointments may be recommended to prevent secondary infection of open lesions.
Cold sore scab usually resolves within 1 to 3 weeks. The HSV-1 resumes dormancy, however, and may reappear given favorable conditions. Sometimes another infection or exposure to wind or sun can reactivate the virus
There is no specific prevention other than avoiding intimate contact with persons with visible cold sores.