Cold sores can last up to two weeks when left on their own. Even with the right treatment, they will last for several days. During that time, they can be painful and cause itching, irritation, burning, and swelling. On top of that, they can be embarrassing and you can even get multiple outbreaks in a row. Early detection of a cold sore is key to healing it quickly. So, how can you tell if you have a cold sore coming?

If you’re not used to flare-ups, knowing the initial symptoms is important. A cold sore goes through stages throughout its short lifespan. However, before you even notice the formation of a blister, there are ways to tell that a cold sore is on the way.

The earliest symptoms of an impending cold sore are usually itching and tingling sensations around the mouth. They may cause slight irritation, but it’s necessary to pay attention to these signs, and not just ignore them. Once you first notice them, you should begin treatment.

Sometimes, cold sores can be confused with other types of growths or skin conditions. Knowing how to differentiate the early signs can make treating them quickly easier.

How Can I Tell if I’m About to Get a Cold Sore?

This article will go further into the earliest signs of a cold sore. Not only is it important to know these signs but what can cause a flare-up in the first place. The more you know about what might trigger an outbreak, the more you can do to help prevent it.

Stopping a blister before it can grow and spread can make a huge difference in living with a cold sore. While there are multiple treatment options available, you’ll find that both over-the-counter and natural solutions always work better the sooner they are implemented.

What Triggers a Flare-Up?

To know if you have a cold sore on the way, it’s a good idea to find out more about the possible triggers. People experience flare-ups for multiple reasons, but some of the most common include:

  • Stress
  • Fatigue
  • A weakened immune system
  • Extreme cold temperatures
  • Sun (UV rays)
  • Hormonal changes

One of the easiest ways to get a cold sore is from another person. The virus is extremely contagious and can be passed from person to person quickly. If you know someone who has a blister, avoid physical contact with them. If you happen to live with someone who currently has a cold sore, never share utensils, food, towels, etc., until they have been properly cleaned.

People who experience outbreaks consistently may be more in tune with what causes them than those who have only gotten one or two in their lifetime. If you’ve had cold sores in the past, think about any underlying similarities that might have helped to trigger it. Once you can try to avoid those triggers, it’s less likely you’ll experience regular blisters.

Is the Beginning of a Cold Sore Always the Same?

Cold sores go through stages, and these stages may affect people differently. However, they must go through these different periods to fully heal.

Before you notice any physical signs of a blister, you will probably notice tingling or itching around the mouth. That is usually followed by slight irritation or a red mark. That red mark will eventually become a blister. When you don’t take the time to treat a cold sore early, it can eventually cause painful oozing and scabbing.

While you can treat a cold sore at any stage, these key initial phases shouldn’t be ignored. Some people may experience them differently, but being aware of any of these signs and starting a treatment solution when you see them could save you a lot of pain and embarrassment. Plus, they can help to shorten the healing time of a blister significantly.

How Do I Know It’s Not Something Else?

There are several other conditions cold sores are commonly mistaken for, including canker sores and bug bites. Canker sores will only occur on the inside of the mouth, while a cold sore never does. Bug bites will usually have different physical properties, even though they can cause itching and irritation. The most commonly mistaken condition, however, is a pimple.

A pimple is caused by a clogged hair follicle. It can be clogged with oils or dirt, creating a red bump on the face (or elsewhere on the body). It is not caused by a virus of any kind and is not contagious. Sometimes, pimples will have white or blackheads.

People can get confused at the beginning stages of both cold sores and pimples because they look similar for a while. Both usually start out as a small red mark or raised bump. However, a cold sore will cause itching and tingling, and a pimple will not. Additionally, if you experience a bump or red mark on the lip, it isn’t a pimple. A pimple can only form where there are hair follicles on the skin, and there are no follicles on the lip.

The best way to differentiate between these two conditions is to note how they feel. Pimples aren’t painful unless they are disturbed. Cold sores can cause pain and irritation simply by forming. Of course, the two different issues require different treatment methods.

How to tell if you're about to get a cold sore

How Can I Treat a Blister Before it Starts?

Almost any over-the-counter cold sore treatment will encourage you to use it when you experience early symptoms. It’s the best way to treat a cold sore before it technically starts, or at least until it forms an unsightly blister.

Additionally, you can use natural solutions to treat a cold sore and relieve pain early, like aloe vera or lysine. Anything with antibacterial properties will help to fight back against the virus, but it’s also important to use something that will help to soothe itching and irritation.

Because you can’t prevent cold sores completely, the next best thing is reducing the severity of a flare-up. It’s important to be in tune with early symptoms so that you can take action immediately. By understanding what triggers cold sore outbreaks, and knowing how the symptoms make you feel, you have a better chance of a less painful, and less noticeable blister.

Keep the suggestions in this article in mind the next time you feel you may be experiencing the start of a cold sore. Don’t leave symptoms to chance, or wait to treat the problem. If you find that you are prone to cold sores, carry an effective treatment with you at all times so that you can use it as soon as possible.