A mother brought her 7 year old son to me for repeated blisters around the mouth. She said that every few weeks the child developed small blister like eruptions around the mouth, which would remain for a few days and then disappear by itself. These blisters would ooze and then form a crust, which would eventually shed off leaving no scar. She was very worried about this as she did not understand what kind of infection this was.
I explained to her that this was a case of Cold Sores or Herpes Simplex Virus infection.


Cold sores are known by many different names. Some people call these eruptions as "Fever blisters" or oral sores. Cold sores are nothing but a type of eruption, which occurs most commonly on the face especially around the lips. The medical terminology for cold sores is Recurrent Herpes Labialis.


Many of us must have heard of Herpes Virus but there are many different types of Herpes viruses. Cold sores are caused by Type I Herpes Simplex Virus. This should not be mistaken with Type II Herpes Simplex Virus.

Type I Herpes Simplex Virus can be acquired from an individual who is carrying this virus. It is a contagious disease where the virus is carried in the saliva and mucus discharges of the body. You can get it by eating from the same utensils, sharing a glass or cutlery with an infected individual. You can even get the infection by kissing or using the same towel with someone who already is carrying this virus.


Even if you get infected with Type I Herpes Simplex virus there may be no symptoms or signs of disease at all. This virus remains dormant in the nerves supplying the skin. The most common nerve affected is the Trigeminal Nerve ganglion therefore the most common site of developing these sores is around the mouth.
In fact this infection is so common that nearly 80% of the general population will have been exposed to this virus in their lifetime but not all will suffer or even show any signs of it.

Most people acquire this infection in their childhood especially between the age of 6 months to 5 years. This is because a child's immunity is immature and not able to fight the virus from entering the body. Once acquired this virus can remain dormant for years.

Mostly children and those with poor immunity suffer from cold sores. Here are the symptoms normally seen with this infection.

1. First a slight swelling, soreness develops around the mouth or any other location.
2. This affected area will show small blisters, which are red and painful.
3. These blisters will break open eventually and ooze.
4. After this a crust is formed which will shed leaving the affected part of skin pink in colour.
5. Healing then takes place without leaving a scar.
6. Sometimes however these sores can spread from the lips to the inside of the mouth. This causes a lot of pain and discomfort while eating.
7. Swallowing can be difficult if swollen glands develop in the neck.
8. Many children loose their appetite because of the pain in the mouth.
9. Some children will develop high fever and headaches.
10. Cold sores can give rise to bad breath and also trouble sleeping as it causes irritation to the child.
11. If the eyes get infected then it causes redness, pain, watering and sensitivity to light and bright objects.
12. Cold sores may keep recurring repeatedly at frequent intervals if the child's immunity is low.


Since this virus remains dormant in our body after acquiring this infection, it can be reactivated anytime when the body's immunity is low. But what triggers it or what lowers our body's immunity? There are a number of things that can trigger reactivation of this viral infection but the most common are:-
1. Stress - any kind of stress mental, emotional or physical can trigger the reactivation of this virus.
2. Illness - if you have had any severe illness then you may develop cold sores due to weakness of your immune system.
3. Injury - to the lips, or the skin around the mouth can give rise to cold sores.
4. Menstruation - some women are prone to getting cold sores around the time of their periods. Some even experience it during pregnancy.
5. Exposure to excessive light - damages the skin and this can give rise to cold sores as the virus gets reactivated.
6. Children - are more prone as their immune system is immature.
7. HIV and people suffering from immune deficiency - these patients tend to suffer from recurring Herpes Simplex labialis once the infection is acquired.


Because this infection is so common in the general public, it is difficult to avoid acquiring it.
If you or your child develops a cold sore apply ice to the affected area.
Keep the ice for atleast ten minutes every few hours. This will give relief from the pain as well as not allow the sore to develop further and spread.
Avoid touching the other parts of your face or eyes if you have touched the sore. Wash your hands repeatedly every time you touch the sore.
If your child has a sore keep his napkin, towel, clothes separately for wash. Do not send him to school and allow him to rest at home especially if he has fever.
You can apply a moisturizer if the lips crack or the scabs hurt. The best thing to apply is plain petroleum jelly.

Since cold sores occur when the body's immunity is low the best way to avoid the attacks from recurring is to improve your body's immunity. In Homeoepathy we treat the individual keeping the patients constitution in mind and the status of his immunity. The constitutional remedy if correct will boost the patient's immunity in order to the fight the infection. There are also certain remedies given to give relief when the attack comes. Here are a few of the remedies, which have proven effective in these cases.


Like the case I described earlier of the 7 year old boy, if you are getting recurrent attacks of cold sores then this remedy should be thought of. Ranunculus has special affinity for the nerves. Here the pains are described as stitching, stabbing, shooting type. There is so much pain that the patient is in tears. The sore is very painful to touch.
These eruptions itch and burn and deep ulcers are formed. The patient feels better by applying something warm to the affected part.

Ranunculus Bulbosus 200, 5 pills 4 times a day will help give relief from the sore.


St. John's Wort or Hypericum is a popular Homoeopathic remedy. It is well known for curing affections of the nerve. This remedy is very useful in treating recurrent attacks of cold sores.
Here the pains are described as burning, tingling, with numbness. The area around the mouth feels very sore. This remedy helps heal old sores and ulcers in the mouth. Also a very useful remedy for any injury to the spinal cord or other nerves.

Give Hypericum 200, 5 pills in repeated doses which will help heal the sores and cure.


I had a 30 year old male patient who came to me with repeated attacks of cold sores. The peculiar symptom was that he got it every time he was exposed to sunlight for a long time. He described his pains as electric like shock. He also felt burning heat in the affected area.
This patient also had another underlying skin disorder which caused itching all over his body. The skin burns all over. He felt worse every time he was exposed to sunlight but he felt better by a hot bath.

Radium Brom 1M, 5 pills 4 times a day healed not only the cold sores but also the other skin affection.