Stages of a Cold Sore Scab
Cold sores are never fun. They are painful and unattractive—not to mention that they tend to stick around for a little while. Here are the eight stages of a cold sore scab so that you can get an idea of how far along you are in the healing process and how much longer it will take to heal.
1: The Latent Stage
You won't be able to notice this stage. At the beginning of the cold sore cycle, the herpes simplex virus stays dormant in your nerve ganglia until it finally becomes a virulent and appears. You can have a dormant virus for a while before it decides to show up.
2: The Prodrome Stage
The prodrome stage is when you feel an itch or tingle in the spot where the cold sore is about to appear. This happens because the virus has begun to move from the nerves to your skin while reproducing. Like other stages of a cold sore scab, this one can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days before developing into the next stage.
3: The Inflammation Stage
This part of the cycle is when you'll start to see redness and swelling on your lip.
4: The Pre-Sore Stage
Here's an interesting fact: Although most people believe that a cold sore is a big blister, it is actually a number of smaller blisters that are close together and very sensitive.
5: The Open-Sore Stage
The open-sore scab is the most contagious and painful stage. The blisters have a tendency to break, then start draining, becoming hard to control. You may get a fever and feel pain in your lymph nodes and the actual sore. However, it's important not to touch the fluid that is draining because it's contagious and could be spread to other parts of your body. It usually takes 7 to ten days for the open-sore stage to pass.
6: The Crusting Stage
This is the stage in which you get your actual scab, the yellowish and crusty protection over the sore that takes the place of all that yellow fluid. It may still hurt, but be aware that this is the sign that you are beginning to heal. During this stage, you want to be careful to avoid moving your lips too much. Too much movement can cause the scab to crack, which is truly painful.
7: The Healing Stage
Healing—what a great word. There's nothing you want to hear more when talking about the stages of a cold sore scab. Once you have that scab, you'll find that the sore is going to start healing from the inside outward. What does that mean? It means that while the wound is healing and your scab is shrinking, you will notice some itching. The virus will retreat to the jaw, where it will remain dormant once more, and your skin will heal.
8: The Post-Scab Stage
This is the last and best stage. By this point, you should have almost complete relief, although you may still have a red spot as the sore continues to heal. After two weeks at the most, you'll be fine.