Cold sore outbreaks will usually begin with a mild tingling, itching or burning sensation felt around the mouth.
This initial sensation will then develop into small fluid-filled sores that usually form on the outer edges of the lower lip.
A sufferer who experiences recurrent frequent infections, often finds the cold sore developing in the same place each time. Initially, the sores can grow in size and start to ooze, before becoming crusty and scabbing over. This usually occurs within 48 hours of the initial tingle sensation.
The majority of cold sores will heal untreated within ten days, usually without scarring.
Cold Sores are viral infections and can be treated using antiviral creams, such as Aciclovir or Penciclovir (Also known as Fenistil). If used correctly, these treatments can speed up the recovery time by up to 50%.
Cold Sore creams are readily available from pharmacies without a prescription. They are most effective when applied at the onset of an infection when the herpes virus is still reproducing and spreading. This is sometimes referred to as the tingling stage. After this initial period, antiviral creams are less likely to have a significant effect.
Cold sore creams are applied up to five times daily, for a period of four to five days. They do not eradicate the existing herpes simplex virus, nor can they prevent future outbreaks from occurring.
When treating cold sores, Antiviral tablets are generally considered more effective than their cream counterparts. However, they are only available on prescription and tend to be reserved for more severe cases.
Cold Sores can also be treated using a medicated patch, containing a gel called hydrocolloid. This form of treatment involves placing a patch over the cold sore, allowing it to heal whilst hiding the wound.
There are a range of non-antiviral creams that are available from pharmacies without a prescription. Though these creams are not specifically designed to treat the herpes simplex virus, they will instead help to ease the associated pain and irritation.
Painkillers such as Paracetamol and Ibuprofen (available in liquid form for young children) are also effective means for easing the associated pain of cold sores. Ask your pharmacist to recommend a tailored treatment suitable for you.
For the majority of cases, cold sore sufferers do not need to visit their doctor.
The condition is self-limiting and is generally treated with antiviral treatments that can be purchased over-the-counter.
Yes, it is possible to contract genital herpes from a cold sore.
If a person infected with a cold sore performs oral sex, he or she can transmit the infection to their partner. This can result in cold sores appearing on and around the genitals, which is called genital herpes.
The reverse of this is also possible. A facial cold sore can be caught from someone who has genital herpes through the act of oral sex.
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