Healthy Living

How to Treat Cold Sores

How to Treat Cold Sores

Key Takeaways

  • Cold sores must be treated immediately in order to decrease the duration of the virus.
  • Cold sores can be induced with stress and a weakened immune system.

Cold sores, or fever blisters, are caused by herpes simplex virus 1 and can be characterized by itchy blisters that are often very painful. It is difficult to completely cure this condition but the symptoms can be alleviated so that you don’t have to suffer unnecessarily. In most cases, the sores may heal on their own without any specific treatment. Yet, the virus may remain dormant in the facial nerves, and resurface after a period of time in response to triggers, like stress and a weakened immune system.

Here are a list of prescription drugs available to combat this virus:

  • Acyclovir
  • Valacyclovir
  • Famciclovir
  • Penciclovir

These antiviral medications are available as pills and creams. In case of severe infections, intravenous application of the medication is suggested. These medications are found to be effective in preventing the spread of cold sores and also for fighting off the viral infection. They should ideally be started within the first two days of the outbreak. Experts suggest dilute cortisone injections to reduce the inflammation caused by cold sores. This is one of the treatment options to receive a fast response.

The over-the-counter medication docosanol is also approved for the treatment of cold sores. It will help in improving the condition within few hours or days. Docosanol reduces the size of the sores and alleviates the pain associated with the sores. There are certain over-the-counter preparations that contain drying agents, like alcohol, that are also helpful in reducing the pain and expedite healing. Medicines that contain numbing agents, like phenol and menthol, can prevent cracking. Anesthetic gels are often recommended to reduce pain.

Remember to keep the sores clean to avoid bacterial infection. Bacterial infection may make sores more complicated to treat.

If you get a cold sore, it is important to remember these tips:

  • Look out for the warning signs of sores, like tingling or itchy feeling on the lip or around the mouth.
  • Once you feel that there is an outbreak, call a doctor to receive appropriate treatment. Some treatments consist of oral drugs or creams, and gels to fight the infection.
  • Take the medications as soon as possible to reduce the pain and the duration of the virus.
  • Avoid drying out sores by keeping the surrounding areas moist. It will help in healing faster.