Symptoms of Cold Sores

Cold sore symptoms vary greatly from one person to another. When you are first infected with HSV-1, you may have no symptoms at all. Others have a severe cold sore accompanied by flu-like symptoms.  

Symptoms may include:

  • Tingling of the lips
  • Itching
  • Dry or irritated skin on the lips and mouth
  • Small blisters on the lips, gums, roof of the mouth or inside of the cheeks
  • Crusted-over sore that lasts up to three weeks
  • Burning
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Muscle aches

If the herpes simplex virus has spread to your eyes, you may also experience:

  • Redness
  • Swollen lids
  • Pain or burning
  • Sensitivity to light

Symptoms usually appear between 2 and 20 days after exposure to the virus. The blisters can last up to three weeks. Subsequent cold sores may heal more quickly.