What does a skin cold sore look like?
Look for a group of blisters packed together on a small area of skin. Shingles may easily be confused with skin HSV. The blisters of HSV are scattered in a small random area. The blisters of shingles are spread along a “dermatome.” A viral swab will quickly confirm which it is.
The area of skin may be sore, itchy, tingly or painful.
The blisters burst and are then called “erosions” – these are red, flat, and may weep. The erosions dry up to become crusted lesions.
Of course cold sores are most commonly found around or on the lips. However, cold sores can occur anwhere where there’s skin. For example, they may be found on shoulders, legs, arms, face, or hands. HSV on the buttock area is more likely to be caused by HSV type 2.
The term Herpes gladiatorum describes HSV-1 in athletes participating in combat sports such as wrestling. The lesions occur on the exposed area such as the arm, leg or trunk.
Herpetic whitlow describes HSV on the hands or fingers. It occurs in health care workers or carers, kids who suck their thumbs, and is also recognised to occur via genital spread.