The first of the cold sores stages is referred to as Prodome. The dormant virus becomes active and rises to the surface of the facial skin by way of nerve endings. If you have the active virus, the first symptom you may experience is a tingling or burning feeling that is often combined with a nagging itching and dryness. After a couple of days this stage will end and the next will begin.

The cold sore will be in pre-formation in stage two, and will be inflamed. This happens when the virus gets into the cells of the nerves and causes redness and discomfort. The first small blisters to appear on the skin are pimple-like, typically in small clusters, and painful to the touch. You may also get a headache and a fever.

In the third of the cold sores stages, the tiny boils rupture and leave a big open sore. The pain can actually be so bad during this phase that people take to their beds. Since the discharge from the sore is full of viruses, this would be the most infectious stage. It can infect any other part of your body that is touched or it will infect anyone that comes in contact with it.

Scab formation takes place in the 4th stage of cold sore development. This is the most painful of the cold sores stages because your facial movements can cause the scab to crack repeatedly. This remains an extremely contagious period with the pus continuing to ooze from the abscess. During this phase, people may see the formation of a scab and have it fall off up to 4 times. The formation of new skin under the scab will cause itchiness and discomfort.

The fifth stage involves the scab falling, with new skin emerging. Your healing will not be complete until the new tissue grows strong as millions of skin cells regenerate beneath the surface. Thankfully the patient will not have to actually feel this process, and the soreness of the new skin should go away within two weeks.

In addition to these more commonly known five cold sores stages, there also exists the sixth stage. The sixth stage is in actual fact the very first stage, during which there are no physical problems or pain. This is the latent stage, in which the cold sore is merely dormant. At this point, the herpes virus, which is the trigger for cold sores, is present in the nerve ganglia but is not actively causing symptoms - but it is still transmissible to a partner! A third of those who contract the virus show no signs of it progressing to another stage. Blood tests are the only indicator of a latent cold sore stage as it can be very deceptive. The virus stays "asleep" until something wakes it up. You do not need to take any medicine during the "sleeping" stage.

If you've been dealing with cold sores on a chronic basis, you know how difficult they can be to get rid of, and the misery they can cause you in the meantime. Fortunately, you don't have to keep suffering. There are ways that you can heal your cold sores more quickly, and even prevent them from coming back. Learn more at Home Remedies for Cold Sores.