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People form cold sores as a result of contracting the Herpes Simplex Virus, also known as HSV. The onset of a cold sore in children generally occur at the inner skin of the mouth. The area may become infected, thus forming blisters. In addition, the spread of the viral infection is due to skin contact. Although the virus can remain dormant for a long time in a person, it appears during times of weak immunity. This article discusses methods on how to quickly get rid of a cold sore. Two commonly occurring strains of the virus exist-
- HSV-1- which most often causes cold sores
- HSV-2 – causes genital herpes in adults
Typically, cold sores resolve by themselves within 7- 10 days. How do you quickly get rid of a cold sore, you may ask? Physicians recommend taking antiviral creams at the onset of cold sores. In fact, this may aid in reducing the severity and controlling the spread of the condition. Further, about 20% of all people in the US suffer from recurring cold sores.
Triggers of the virus
Illness like the flu, cough or common cold activates the virus to cause cold sores. In addition, other triggers in adults include:
- Mental stress
- Lack of hygiene
- Excessive exposure to direct sunlight
Symptoms of cold sores
- Individuals may experience a tingling sensation before blisters develop- typically on the lips/nose.
- The sensation may be prolonged for a while. For instance, it can last several hours or up to a whole day.
- Additionally, weepy blisters may develop. They are usually teeming with the virus. Thus, it may take longer to heal.
- Cold sores can be painful and tender.
In brief, cold sores are contagious. Hence, they may easily spread upon contact until they are completely healed and scabbed over. Most importantly, even though the scabs go away completely, the virus will stay. It will return back to its dormant state. Thus, the virus does not die.
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The spread of cold sores
- Do not allow anybody to come in contact with the cold sore by touch. Thus preventing the virus from spreading.
- Avoid kissing. Also, cover the mouth with a face mask if possible.
- Avoid coming in contact with babies and persons with weak immune systems. Individuals may include those who are undergoing chemotherapy or are HIV patients.
- In addition, do not indulge in oral sex until the cold sores have completely gone away.
Diagnosis of cold sores
Diagnosis is based on:
- Tingling pain
- Additionally, it may also be followed by blisters around the mouth and nose.
- A swab test of the blister fluid may confirm the diagnosis of HSV
- In exceptional cases, the virus can be detected by performing a blood test.
- Also, testing might be done in people who have a poor immune system.
- Avoid touching the cold sores except while applying cream on them.
- Dab the cream on the affected area rather than rub it in.
- Always wash your hands with soap before and after applying cream on the blisters.
- Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher to protect your skin from overexposure to the sun.
- Avoid sharing lipsticks and lip balms with others if you have cold sores.
- You may take paracetamol or ibuprofen to manage/reduce pain.
- Do not share your ointments and medication with others even if they seem to have the same symptoms as yours.
- If you wear contact lenses and suspect they may have become infected, switch to wearing glasses and speak to your optician as soon as you can for advice.
Treatment – How to quickly get rid of a cold sore
It is always best to consult your doctor on the appearance of symptoms of cold sores. The physician will prescribe any one of the two lines of treatment mentioned below.
- Some gels that help relieve pain may not be suitable for all age groups. For example, the choline salicylate gel alleviates pain but is not recommended for children under sixteen due to the risk of Reye’s syndrome.
- Local anesthetic gels like Lidocaine may reduce pain levels.
- Antiviral creams do not kill the virus but significantly control them from further multiplying. Aciclovir (Zovirax®) is one such medication that can be bought at pharmacies and does not need a prescription.
- May reduce the severity and duration of the infection
- Apply this cream 5 times every day and for a period of 5 days
If the infection is more severe or is not responding to treatment with the cream, doctors may prescribe antiviral tablets. Namely, the tablets include: aciclovir or valaciclovir. Additionally, a prescription of oral pills may also be necessary. For instance, specifically for persons with poor immune systems or for babies. Thus, the oral pills prevent the condition from becoming worse and prevent the spread of the virus.
Lastly, laser treatment is another treatment for cold sores. For example, photodynamic therapy involves a narrow band of light. It has worked well for some people with the condition. Pharmacies now carry machines that deliver narrowband light for this treatment.