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These are the typical eruptions that occur and recur on the lips or around the mouth. They are the result of infection with the Herpes virus type I. Once an initial infection with the Herpes virus has occurred, generally in childhood sometime, the virus lies dormant in the nerve roots around the spinal cord (ganglion, plural ganglia). Some stress - infection, sunlight, emotional - who knows what - triggers activation of the dormant virus. The virus migrates down the nerve fibers of a specific nerve to the skin, where it infects the skin cells and causes the typical blistering followed by ulceration and sore formation. Because a specific nerve is infected from the level of the spinal ganglion, the sores always occur in exactly the same spot.
Anyone who suffers from recurrent cold sores or fever blisters knows that there is often a warning - prodrome - of body aches, fatigue, and then tingling or burning pain at the site where the vesicles soon will erupt.
Treatment of fever blisters or cold sores is now possible with the anti-herpesvirus Zovirax® ointment. If treatment is started at the first sign of local pain, the course of the attack will be generally milder.