If you have never had a cold sore before then you might wonder how long the scab will last. The scab is actually the fourth stage that the cold sore will go through and it is important that you know what happens before and after this point. Only understanding the full process of the cold sore scab development will help you understand how long the scab could last.
Stage 1 �” Tingling
The start of your cold sore will be a tingling sensation on your lip. At first, you will not even notice this, but it will become an itch after a while. The skin on the lip may also start to feel tight at this point then the area will start to swell as the cold sore virus activates. This tingling stage will last between 1 and 2 days.
Stage 2 �” The Blister
This is when the cold sore starts to get ugly as small blisters will start to form in a cluster on the lip. The itching will increase and you will start to feel some pain. The fluid in the blisters contains particles of the HSV-1 virus and your body will start to fight this by sending white blood cells to the area. The blister stage lasts for 1 to 2 days.
Stage 3 �” Ulcer
About 4 days after the cold sore starts forming the blister will burst and this will cause the uncomfortable ulcer stage. This is considered the most painful stage in the cold sore cycle as the area forms an ulcer and becomes inflamed. The ulcer stage will also last between 1 to 2 days.
Stage 4 �” Scabbing
Once you reach this stage the worst is actually over, but the body is only starting to heal. As the cold sore dries out a scab will form over the area. Cracks and splits will form in the scab, but picking at it will lead to bleeding. The scab will itch as the skin starts to heal, but you need to avoid scratching at it because this could cause bleeding. The scabbing stage could last approximately 4 days before it starts to flake.
Stage 5 �” Healing
Once the scab starts to come off you will enter the last stage of the cold sore cycle which is the healing stage. The skin underneath the scab will be dry and flaky with a pink or red tinge to it. It is important that you moisturize the lips to ensure that the cold sore does not leave any scarring. The healing stage could last up to 5 days.
It is important that you know the stages of cold sores because you will be contagious from the time you feel tingling to the end of the healing stage. This means that anyone who comes into contact with the cold sore could be infected and you could infect others by sharing items that have touched the cold sore. There is very little that you can do to speed up the cold sore cycle other than relieving the itching.