Happy woman is smiling because she is cold sore and fever blister free.

When it comes to
treating a cold sore,
it’s important to
act early!

Believe it or not, one cold sore or fever blister typically goes through 5 stages during its 8-10 day course, — and sometimes it can hang around up to 2 weeks.

When you start using Abreva at the first tingle, you can help shorten the duration of your cold sore cycle. And, remember to avoid your triggers during every stage of your cold sore.

Cold Sore Stages & Symptoms

Lips with a small red dot showing the first stage of a cold sore: tingling, itching and burning.  The First Tingle | Day 1-2

Known as The Early Stage, this is when you’ll feel those first few symptoms — the first tingle and maybe an itching and/or burning sensation. You might feel like this is more the “Tingle Stage” and it might last a few hours up to a full day. Your skin could feel like it’s tightening where your cold sore is forming. The area becomes red and swollen because of the inflammatory reaction to the infection. The best time to start treatment is when that tingling sensation first happens, before any visible sign of a cold sore appears. If you miss it, don't worry, it's not too late to treat. Start using Abreva early for best results.

Small bumbs on lip skin cells showing the Blister Stage of a cold sore.  Fighting the Cold Sore | Days 2-4

This is The Blister Stage — when you first can see the blister. It probably looks like a group of small, painful lumps that may multiply and/or grow. As your body tries to fight your cold sore, white blood cells travel to the blister to help fight the infection. When this is happening, your cold sore blister fills with fluid which contains millions of virus particles.

Broken blisters on lip skin cells showing the Ulcer Stage of a cold sore.  Goodbye, Blister | Day 4

This may be the most painful stage of your outbreak but it’ll only last around one day. During The Ulcer Stage, the blisters burst and a shallow ulcer (open sore) develops. You may also see a red ring of inflammation around the affected area. Continue using Abreva until the ulcer heals.

Small bumps on lip skin cells showing the Scabbing Stage of a cold sore.  Almost Gone | Days 5-8

During The Scabbing Stage, your cold sore dries out and a golden-brown crust appears, forming a scab. As your scab shrinks, you may experience painful cracks that can bleed. You may also feel severe itching and burning during this stage, too.

Almost healed scab on lip skin cells showing the Healing Stage of a cold sore.  Gone | Day 8-10

Finally, it’s time for your cold sore to heal during The Healing Stage. As your scab starts to come off, you may notice some dry flaking and residual swelling. Your skin may also remain slightly pink or red.