Cold sore treatment

Cold sores, those painful and annoying blisters that you desperately want to be healed, are difficult to treat without the right tools. These fluid-filled sores can appear on the lips, mouth, or nose and are caused by a virus. The lesion may go away on its own in a few days, but, due to the nature of the virus, isn’t usually completely defeated by the body’s defenses so they often return just as painful and just as annoying. I is best to use some form of treatmentThis article will explore the causes of cold sores and different avenues of treatment.

Causes of Cold Sores
The herpes simplex virus (HSV) is not just an STD that can be had in the genital region. It is the cause of cold sores and always presents itself as painful blisters. Cold sores are commonly caused by Type 1 Herpes (HSV-1); regardless of the type, herpes is highly contagious and can be spread from person to person with close contact, such as kissing. Typically it is only contagious when there are active sores on the body, but it is important to know that it can be transmitted through the saliva even when sores aren’t visibly present. Herpes is one of the few viruses that lives and grown in the nerve tract, and it can remain latent there for a very long time if it is not treated.

Treatment of Cold Sores
There are different types of treatments for cold sores, depending on the severity and the situation.

Cold Sore with Other Symptoms
If it’s the first time you’ve had an outbreak of the cold sore, it may be associated with other symptoms, including fever, swollen glands, bleeding gums, and painful areas (sores) around the mouth. If something this severe happens to you or a child, seek medical attention and the appropriate measures will be taken. The symptoms should subside in a few days, but it is always better to see a doctor with any concern.

Treatment at Home
The first few guidelines are more of a preventative-type care. Washing your hands often is the first step in treatment to keep from spreading the HSV-1 to other people. Also, don’t share any eating utensils or cups with people.

Now, here are tips to treat the cold sore at home. A cold (or warm—completely up to personal preference) compress can relieve pain, but it will probably only provide temporary relief. If the cold sore is inside the mouth, you can gargle warm water with a little bit of salt a few times daily. This will keep it clean and hopefully help it heal faster.

Treatment with Medication
Since there is only a limited amount that you can do at home, medications are available to relieve cold sores; they help make the cold sore go away as well as reduce the symptoms. Some require a prescription and some are available over-the-counter. They come in pill form or can be applied topically as a cream.

Over-the Counter treatments often only provide symptom relief, but do not shorten the amount of time the cold sore is present. Topical anesthetics with benzocaine, lidocaine, tetracaine, or dibucaine will relieve pain, itching, and burning. Unfortunately, the relief only lasts about 30 minutes. Others may be in the form of skin protectants—allantoin, petrolatum, and dimethicone—and they help keep the sore stay moist and prevent it from cracking, which is very painful. Lip balm with sunscreen as an ingredient may be beneficial if the sun is a source of irritation or a trigger of cold sores.

Prescribed medications are also available in topical creams and in pill form. Topical creams, containing acyclovir or penciclovir can reduce healing time and reduce pain. Follow the directions on the tube or package for application. The pills that are prescribed are acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famcyclovir—all of which have few side effects and shorten the duration of the sore.

Last updated on Aug 13th, 2010 and filed under Other Conditions & Diseases. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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