Understanding Cold Sores -- Symptoms

Medically Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD on July 20, 2021

What Are the Symptoms of Cold Sores?


The symptoms of cold sores include:

  • Fluid-filled blisters or red, painful, burning or itching sores that are typically on or near the mouth, or on fingers
  • Swollen, sensitive gums of a deep red color
  • A fever, flu-like symptoms, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck often accompanying the first attack; recurrent sores usually don't produce these symptoms.
  • Tingling and itching in the area of a previous outbreak

Call Your Doctor About Cold Sores If:

  • You develop a high fever or chills; high fevers can be dangerous.
  • Your sores are very painful; you may be able to get prescription relief.
  • Your cold sores start to spread; antiviral agents may be needed.

Show Sources


Columbia University College of Dental Medicine: "Cold Sores and Fever Blisters."

Mayo Clinic: "Cold Sore."

Academy of General Dentistry: "What Are Cold Sores?"

MedlinePlus: "Herpes - oral."


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