Cold Sores - aka Herpes Virus
Answer: It is the old fashoned "cold sore" also known as Herpes Simplex (HSV-1).
Almost everyone has experienced a cold sore or has seen this unappealing swelling on someone's lip. Here is a quick tutorial on HSV-1.
Herpes Simplex causes a small painful blister or cluster of tiny blisters and swelling on the skin. The common cold sore occurs on the lip but HSV-1 can also show up on the genitals or even the finger. Millions of people don't even know they have the virus until it rears its ugly head. Because the virus resides in the nerve root, the symptoms often start with a tingle or a dull ache in the affected spot. It multiplies rapidly and within hours the blister grows with swelling of the tissue around it. Over a 10 day period it drys out and looks crusted and ugly. HSV-1 is so common, it is easy to diagnose visually or with a simple blood test or tissue sample. Once diagnosed, it is easy for the patient to know when it comes back. There can be years between outbreaks but some things are certain to trigger a recurrance in some people: Sunburn or windburn (that means skiing or water sports...kindof covers the whole year), high fever, or stress. And yes, it is contageous.
Tips for dealing with Cold Sores (HSV-1):
When you feel that first tingle or bump, immediately take an aspirin and apply ice.
Valtrex or Acyclovir or Famvir are prescription antiviral medicines that are extremely effective if taken within the first 12-24 hours of an outbreak. They can block the infection from emerging and shorten the duration. The key is to start ASAP when the virus is rapidly replicating.
Blistex or Campho-phenique can help with pain.
Despite claims, Lysine has not been effective in controlled trials.
Herpes virus is annoying but it can be managed and it shouldn't effect your long and healthy life.