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Young man with cold sore

Bacteria, fungi, and viruses can all cause skin infections. Usually, with early treatment, your dermatologist can get these conditions under control without permanent skin scarring. If you experience the symptoms of any of these viral skin infections, call your dermatologist right away so diagnosis and appropriate treatment can begin.

Cold Sores

Cold sores, which are caused by the herpes simplex I virus, usually appear around the mouth. They look like red blisters and are usually accompanied by tingling or a burning sensation. Cold sores often appear repeatedly in the same locations because the virus lives in the nerves and travels to the skin along the same pathway each time. Although your body can typically fight off the virus, your defenses may be weakened by stress or illness, allowing the cold sores to appear. If your dermatologist starts treatment within 24 to 48 hours of symptoms appearing, cold sores are usually easy to control.

Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is caused by a virus that is part of the pox family of viruses. While it can occur in patients of any age, it’s most common in children and people with weakened immune systems. Symptoms include raised papules that may be itchy. They are most common on the face, trunk, and limbs in kids and the genitals, inner thighs, and abdomens of adults. Molluscum contagiosum is passed through direct contact. Symptoms can persist for months or even years. Your dermatologist can scrape or freeze painful lesions to help relieve your symptoms, but there is no specific treatment.


Shingles, caused by the herpes zoster virus, occurs in people who have had chickenpox. After chickenpox, the virus stays dormant in the body until it is reactivated by trauma, illness, or medication. Shingles start as a burning sensation and then is characterized by painful red blisters. Pain from shingles can continue long after the blisters are gone. Your dermatologist can treat shingles with antiviral medication and topical creams for pain.

Are you concerned about the symptoms you’re experiencing with your skin? Schedule a consultation with Swinyer – Woseth Dermatology. Our Salt Lake City dermatologists offer treatment for a range of skin conditions. Learn more by calling 801-266-8841.