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Cold Sores. Causes, Symptoms, Prevention and Cure.

Cold Sores

Find a Cold Sore Treatment.

The oral herpes simplex virus (HSV-1, which most often is not sexually transmitted) is the cause of cold sores. They are quite contagious and very common. The virus is spread through contact with someone with a cold sore. Once you have been infected with a form of the herpes virus, its stays in your body for the rest of your life, meaning you’ll probably get cold sores every now and then throughout your life. Most of the time the virus quietly hides or sleeps in the nerve cells of the skin or the central nervous system. They appear mostly in the winter but can be triggered by stress, menstruation, sunlight, fever, dry chapped lips, illness or injury. Cold sores are often confused with canker sores, but canker sores are actually sores or ulcers that occur inside the mouth, and are not contagious. 

Cold Sore Symptoms

The sore itself can appear as a single blister or in a cluster, often reoccurring in the same location. The map appear on and around your lips, nose, chin or cheeks. Many people who suffer from cold sores know when one is coming by the distinctive (and often dreaded) tingling or burning, redness, itching or painful sensation, followed by clusters of small, painful, fluid-filled blisters that appear around their mouth or lips. Within a few days, the blisters are covered with an unsightly thin, yellow crust as they begin to dry, and the pain subsides. Another few days and this crust falls off, leaving behind a pinkish skin that heals without a scar. The entire process usually takes one to two weeks, but the blisters are contagious until they dry up. The virus can be passed from person to person from one area of your body to another. Someone with cold sores can spread the herpes virus to the genital through oral sex. The virus can even be passed by sharing cups, cans, glasses, eating utensils, towels and food.

How to Get Rid of Cold Sores

There are no cold sore cures, however, as a cold sore treatment, you can take steps to reduce how often they occur and shorten the length of an outbreak. Cold sore medication is antiviral. It can reduce the symptoms and dry up the blisters. People who have frequent cold sores or have severe attacks may take this type of cold sore medication daily to prevent them. Topical creams may help reduce pain and help with healing. A cold sore remedy may include prescription and over-the-counter products. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist to see which treatment is best for you.

Cold Sore Prevention

The best way to cure cold sores it to prevent them from occurring in the first place and to prevent the virus from being passed to other parts of your body or to other persons. Here are some tips to follow:

  • Avoid getting cold sores in the first place by not sharing items like lip balm, toothbrushes, drinks, eating utensils, towels or food. The virus that causes cold sores is transmitted through the nose (in mucus) and the mouth (in saliva).

  • Try to avoid triggers such as stress and overexposure to the sun. Use sunscreen, eat well, exercise, and get plenty of sleep.

  • Use lip moisturizer regularly to prevent your lips from becoming chapped or dry.

  • Avoid kissing and skin contact with people, especially children, while blisters are present.

  • Wash your hands frequently to avoid passing on the virus or infecting other parts of your body.

  • When outside, use sunscreen and protective lip balm to prevent sun-related outbreaks.

Cold Sore Remedies

If you do have a cold sore, here are some tips for keeping yourself comfortable:

  • If cold sores are painful, take acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

  • Suck on ice pops or cubes to ease pain and keep cold sores cool.

  • Stay away from acidic foods (oranges, tomatoes, lemonade) and salty, spicy foods, which can cause irritation.

  • Do not pick at cold sores while you are waiting for them to heal. They may bleed or become infected with bacteria. Picking can also cause the infection to spread to other parts of your body or to someone else.

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The information published on this web site is for entertainment purposes only and is in no way intended to dispense medical opinion or advice or to be a substitute for professional medical care, whether advice, diagnosis or treatment, by a medical practitioner. If you feel ill or have a medical issue, you should consult a health care professional.

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