Cold sores are painful and can be very visible. If you have ever had a cold sore, you understand exactly how annoying they can be. Knowing how to get rid of cold sores is just as important as knowing how to prevent them from happening in the first place.
What are Cold Sores?
Cold sores have a variety of names. They can be called herpes blisters, fever blisters, and or just cold sores. However, they’re all the same thing and are caused by the herpes simplex virus. The HSV-1 virus causes cold sore blisters to form on the lip and goes through five distinct stages. The cold sore stages are:
- Tingling (some may notice this as a tiny area on the lip that itches or tingles)
- Blister formation
- Ulcers after the blisters pop open
- Scabbing and drying
The first two stages can happen very quickly; in some people, they may go to bed feeling fine and wake up with the blisters already formed on the lip. Once the blisters pop open, it can take up to a week to reach the healing stage.
Why Do People Get Cold Sores?
You may wonder, “where do cold sores come from?”. They are an exacerbation of the HSV-1 virus; when an outbreak occurs, an infection of this virus is what causes cold sores. The virus is easily transmitted and can remain dormant in your body for years without ever creating an outbreak.
How are Cold Sores Transmitted?
It is important to know how you get cold sores, in order to help protect yourself. The virus is transmitted via saliva. Most people are exposed to the virus when they are small children, ages 1 to 5, and more than half of people in the United States have the virus by the time they are an adult, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
With statistics like these, understanding why you get cold sores is vital for parents and adults. Cold sores can be shared via innocent things like kissing a baby on the cheek or letting a friend share your drink. The virus can also be shared via oral sex and intercourse. It is important that if you have an outbreak, you are extra cautious not to share anything that may have your saliva on it and are sure to wash your hands frequently.
Preventing Cold Sores
An outbreak of cold sores only occurs when a triggering event happens. Some known causes that trigger cold sores are:
- Viral infections
- Monthly hormonal changes
- Exposure to sunlight or heavy winds
- High fevers
Knowing what triggers cold sores can help you figure out what your specific triggers are, and how to prevent them. Those who struggle with frequent outbreaks of cold sores may find relief in using quality lip gloss all the time. Using lip glosses or lip balms that have rich moisturizers, such as shea butter, and sunscreen protection keeps the lips moisturized and protected. This helps keep the lips from being susceptible to becoming chapped and may decrease the number of cold sore infections.
Treating Cold Sores
The best home remedies for cold sores can be found in many people’s medicine cabinets. Diluted apple cider vinegar can be used to fight against a cold sore blister; just take a small cotton ball, dip it into the vinegar, and dab it on the cold sore a couple of times a day. Lysine supplements have been helpful for some people, as well as Manuka honey; both of these are typically available at health food stores. Aloe vera gel, the favorite sunburn relief that most people use, can also help soothe the sores.
Other cold sore treatments are focused on the symptoms of cold sores, as they can be painful when you try to move your mouth. Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen may help with cold sore pain. When eating, it is best to avoid citrus and spicy, or vinegar-based foods, so they will not cause additional pain.
Cold sore medicines can also be provided by a physician. Antiviral medications, such as acyclovir and valacyclovir, are useful to help slow an outbreak of the cold sore. These medications must be started immediately at the first sign of symptoms, as they do not work as well once the ulcer has formed. The medicine comes in pill form and cream base, which you can apply directly to the cold sore.
Prescription-strength cold sore medication can only be prescribed by a physician. If you have cold sores or have symptoms that make you suspect that you may have them, you should consider seeking an online medical consultation. The telehealth technology used by Alpha Medical provides instant access to physicians online who can perform a consultation directly from the comfort of your home and provide prescriptions that can be shipped directly to your door.