My “Cold Sore” Episode

by Roxanne C.


Cold sores aren't fun to deal with but there is something worse.


A few weeks back, something unusual happened to my lips. At first, tiny bumps started appearing at the top left of my upper lip. I thought nothing much of it because I’m really used to having my skin – or any part of my face for that matter – reacting undesirably to products. But about two days later, I found that the bumps had spread to other parts of my upper lip and some parts of my bottom lip as well. Not only that, they were oozing out some liquid when pressed and there was a burning sensation as well. I thought I’d better see a doctor and so I did.


At the clinic, the doctor suspected that I had cold sores but couldn’t confirm it because of the large number of blisters. Blisters. I hate that word. Isn’t that what we girls get when we wear new shoes? He gave me some acyclovir cream and some oral medication to help speed up the healing process. The next few days were utter hell. My sores spread to the entire part of my upper AND lower lips. There wasn’t a part that was spared from the virus. Several days after the visit to the doctor, they started to crack all over and it hurt terribly bad. At its worst, I couldn’t open my mouth to eat because the skin was so tight and could not stretch at all. Cracks formed everywhere and my lips were completely dry. They looked like the dessert ground that hadn’t seen rain in a decade.


And then, more days later, they started to crust. Yellowish, brownish crusty things they were. Grossest things I’ve ever had on my mouth. My lips still hurt and I still couldn’t eat properly. It’s a miracle I didn’t lose weight from all the porridge I was eating. The crusting lasted another few days, after which new skin started forming underneath. Finally, the scabs fell off. OK I cheated somewhat by picking at some of them. You can’t blame me for doing that though – My lips could move once the scabs were off. It was weird. It looked weird. My lips looked pink, raw and… innocent. Like they were reborn. Those lines that were previously there (signs of ageing) were no longer there. My lips were smooth and looked fuller and healthier! Very weird, I know!


But then, about two days later, the tiny blisters started coming back! I was horrified because how could I get another cold sore outbreak immediately after my previous one just ended? I couldn’t stand 2 more weeks dealing with another episode! So off to the doctor I went again. This time, I got a slightly different diagnosis: I had contact dermatitis. We were both wrong about my lips the previous time. I wasn’t suffering from cold sores. It was dermatitis, an allergic reaction to a lip product! Oh my god, can you imagine? I can’t describe to you now how I felt that time but let’s just say it was a mix of both good and bad. The good part was that I didn’t have cold sores, which means that I am currently still safe from it. The bad part was that I am allergic to something in lip products and I don’t know what it is! Seriously, I never knew contact dermatitis on the lips ever existed!


Now that I’m aware of this condition, I’m definitely more cautious about lip balms, lipsticks and lip glosses that I put on me. For the time being, I’m using Sephora’s Ultimate Lip Balm SPF 15 and it works just fine, keeping my lips moisturised and looking plump. Most importantly, it’s not giving me a bad reaction!


I suppose the good thing that came out of this unpleasant event was that I got to learn more about cold sores and contact dermatitis, and also that my lips sort of got rejuvenated. Also, the fact that I could get such a bad reaction from a simple thing like a lip balm has made the whole toxic-chemicals-in-beauty-products issue very real. If given the option, I’d never want to go through it ever again.





Let's go shopping via {link url=""}Teen Vogue{/link}.




Image credits:


Livia April 2, 2012 - 9:09 pm

OMG! Dermatitis from a lip product! Do you have any idea or supposition about what product might have caused the lip dermatitis?

lacedivory86 April 3, 2012 - 5:17 am

I can't say for sure what product caused it, but to be honest, it's not a product that causes dermatitis – It's the ingredient used. Therefore, I can have the same reaction to another product that contains the same ingredient that I'm allergic to. I don't know what ingredient this is and it's too much of a hassle to find out so from now on I'll just have to be careful of what I apply on my lips.


Carrie Shannon April 5, 2012 - 5:23 pm

Hey Roxanne,

I've also gotten dermatitis before on my lips. How I told them apart was the multiple tiny bumps that would start to appear, compared to a cold sore which is usually a very defined bump or 2. Both are a major annoyance though. Glad you got it all handled 🙂

Rola April 20, 2012 - 8:33 pm

Thanks, Roxanne. I learned something new today. I have sensitive lips, so it is good to know about the different problems.
My recent post Origins GinZing And Plantscription For Eyes

lacedivory86 April 20, 2012 - 8:45 pm

Glad to have been of help!


Review & Swatch: Vapour Organic Beauty Siren Lipsticks - Laced Ivory: Beauty, Fashion, Lifestyle May 15, 2012 - 11:32 am

[…] I’m so glad to have finally found a lip product that suits me ever since I got my first round of eczema. I’ve not touched all my other lip products since then because I’m afraid to. Even my […]

anre May 18, 2012 - 7:48 am

usually I'm not allergic to any of the cosmetic products but once I had such an allergic reaction to a face cream (not mentioning the brand) that my face was all covered in blisters and it lasted almost a week.

James Gregg May 10, 2013 - 1:15 am

Cold sores for me are a real pain. I used to get them monthly until I started using the Prevent Cold Sores HQ site and have since brought them down to about one every six months. Worst thing is, being a man, I can't hide them with make up!

janny August 5, 2016 - 11:15 pm

hi Roxanne thank you very much for your article! it's really help me

Comments are closed.