side view of lips

How Can You Know If a Cold Sore Is Still Contagious?

Usually, cold sores spread for two weeks. A cold sore is most contagious when the blisters first appear and when they rupture, spilling their clear fluid. Once a cold sore emerges, dries, develops a scab, and heals, it is no longer contagious.

The highly contagious HSV-1 virus has already started to flare up when you feel the tingling of the cold sore beneath your skin, making it possible for you to infect others.

Read more about cold sores and where to seek urgent care. 

Why Do Cold Sores Develop?

A typical viral infection called the herpes simplex virus results in tiny cold sores and uncomfortable blisters filled with fluid. According to the World Health Organization, 3.7 billion people, or 67% of the world’s population under 50, had oral or genital HSV-1 infection in 2016.

Small, fluid-filled blisters that typically occur in groups on or around your lips are a classic indication of the infection. They could also resemble one large sore that is oozing clear fluid. A crust forms after the blister bursts and starts to scab.

Cold Sores: Are They Contagious?

Yes, cold sores do spread rapidly. You are contagious if you have tingling or other cold sore symptoms, which ordinarily appear before a blister forms.

How Can You Know If a Cold Sore Is Still Infectious?

The virus is no longer contagious once your skin has recovered from the cold sore and appears normal. Even if you don’t have a cold sore, you can still spread the herpes virus through your saliva since it remains dormant in your body.

You will always carry the HSV-1 virus if you do. Some people never show any symptoms because the virus is dormant in their bodies. Cold sore outbreaks occur in some persons.

How Simple Is the Process of Getting a Cold Sore?

Cold sores can spread quickly. Skin-to-skin contact, such as kissing, oral sex, and sharing items like towels, eating utensils, and straws, can spread cold sores. Any skin breach, even one you wouldn’t even notice, can expose you to the virus.

A popular misconception is that a cold sore is no longer contagious after a scab has formed. Up until the cold sore is entirely healed, you are still contagious.

Kissing someone with a cold sore won’t cause you to get one. However, you should never touch an open cold sore; you should wait until the sore has burst, scabbed over, and healed completely.

Cold Sores Last for How Long?

A cold sore often takes 10 to 14 days first to appear. Subsequent outbreaks frequently develop milder and heal more quickly with time. The virus that causes cold sores will still be present in your body even after the sore has healed.

Does Cold Sore Medicine Exist?

There are medications that aid in quickening the healing process. Although the HSV-1 virus that causes cold sores has no known treatment, you can hasten the healing process by taking medication as soon as you have any symptoms, such as tingling or itchy, red skin.

To avoid a full-blown cold sore, prescription drugs like acyclovir can be given before a flare-up. It’s also best to visit an urgent care center.


From the moment a cold sore appears until it has entirely healed, it is communicable. The contagious period typically lasts 5 to 10 days. Remember that cold sores can spread even if they are not noticeable. As a result, it’s crucial to maintain proper cleanliness and avoid handling or sharing anything that has come into contact with a cold sore. To reduce the infection’s chance of spreading, people should also refrain from kissing or other skin-to-skin contact with those with cold sores. If cold sores worsen, you can also visit an urgent care center in Santa Fe, NM

Aspen Medical Center is a privately owned urgent care center and state-of-the-art primary care practice in Santa Fe and Espanola, New Mexico. Check-in online today!

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