Can You Get Rid of a Cold Sore?
Cold sores are a common but very irritating complaint. These small blisters appear on or close to the lips. There are a lot of myths surrounding the causes and correct treatment of cold sores. Read on to find out the truth about cold sores.
What causes cold sores?
The herpes simplex virus is responsible for causing cold sores. However, the strain of herpes that usually causes cold sores (HSV-1) is different to the strain that causes genital herpes (HSV-2). In rare cases, cold sores are also caused by HSV-2, which can be transmitted from the genitals of an infected person to the mouth of another person through oral sex.
The virus that causes cold sores is very common, affecting a significant fraction of the population. Most of the time the virus lies dormant, causing no harm to the carrier. However, factors such as stress or extreme tiredness can trigger the virus to become active and cause cold sores to appear around the mouth.
How to treat cold sores
Cold sores will disappear without treatment within 7-10 days. Treatment with antiviral cream can speed up this process. To get rid of a cold sore as quickly as possible, antiviral cream should be applied as soon as feelings of tingling occur. Tingling, or occasionally burning, is the first sign of a cold sore developing. Catching and treating the cold sore at this stage prevents it from developing into a painful blister.
How to avoid passing on cold sores
The herpes virus is passed on when someone with a cold sore comes into skin-on-skin contact with an uninfected person. People with cold sores should avoid kissing other people, particularly babies, until the cold sore is completely healed. It is also good hygiene practice to avoid sharing cosmetics, towels or toothbrushes with other people.
How to prevent cold sores
Many people are already infected with HSV-1 but do not suffer from cold sores. Once the virus has entered the body it cannot be cured, but there are steps you can take to prevent the virus from causing cold sores. Avoid cold sore triggers such as stress, over-tiredness and UV exposure by using a lip balm with built-in sunscreen and taking time out to relax.