Cold

Sore Treatment

Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are a common viral infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). These small, fluid-filled blisters typically appear on or around the lips, but they can also manifest on the nose, chin, or cheeks. Cold sores are highly contagious and can be transmitted through direct contact with the blister or through saliva.

The initial outbreak of cold sores is often preceded by a tingling or burning sensation, which is followed by the formation of small, red bumps. These bumps then evolve into painful blisters filled with fluid. After a few days, the blisters burst, leaving behind open sores that gradually crust over and heal within a week or two.

Although cold sore outbreaks are generally harmless, they can be uncomfortable and unsightly. The primary infection with HSV usually occurs during childhood or adolescence, and the virus remains dormant in the body. Factors such as stress, fatigue, hormonal changes, and a weakened immune system can trigger a cold sore outbreak. 

Symptoms typically begin to appear 2-12 days after exposure. These can include:

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Redness and swelling

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Small, painful blisters 

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Pain or discomfort in the affected area

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Tingling or itching sensation on spot where cold sores are about to develop

Cold sores, also known as fever blisters or herpes bumps, are primarily caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 or HSV-1. Upon successful transmission, HSV-1 infects the nerve cells around the mouth and remains in the body in dormant and active states. The disease is most prone to spreading when cold sores or an outbreak is present, but can additionally spread when there are no symptoms in a process known as asymptomatic spreading. The most common mode of HSV-1 transmission is kissing or any oral-to-oral contact. 

A cold sore diagnosis, specifically for the cold sores caused by HSV-1, can happen during an in-person or telemedicine doctor’s visit when a flair-up is visually clear or if there is visible evidence of there having been one. If in a dormant state with no signs of cold sores, doctors still have measures to use, with the most common including: 

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Viral Culture 

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Blood Test

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Polymerase Chain Reaction Test

In combination with antivirals like Acyclovir and Valacyclovir, cold sore treatment primarily focuses on managing and reducing the severity and frequency of outbreaks, as well as alleviating symptoms. While there is no herpes cure, the condition can be managed down to a dormant state per each flair-up through treatment and habits that involve lowering stress, reducing spread, keeping the flair-up site clean, etc.  

Antiviral medications (oral and topical) can be prescribed for severe or recurring outbreaks. These cold sore medicines work by inhibiting the replication of the herpes simplex virus, reducing the duration and severity of outbreaks. Commonly prescribed antivirals include:

Acyclovir - An antiviral medication that helps to reduce the severity and duration of outbreaks, as well as relieve associated symptoms. It is available in pill and ointment form.

Valacyclovir - Another antiviral medication, valacyclovir is more efficiently absorbed by the body than acyclovir, and it is more often used as a preventative cold sore treatment to reduce the frequency of future outbreaks.

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Applying a cool compress to reduce swelling and discomfort

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Coating the infected area with aloe vera gel

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Diets with a focus on Vitamin C and E

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Using lip balm or petroleum jelly to keep the flair-up mo

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Avoiding harsh skincare and cosmetic products

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Keeping the flair-up site clean

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Refraining from scratching and picking at cold sores

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Focusing on rest, hydration, and stress reduction

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Using sunscreen regularly

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Avoiding close contact during an outbreak

Preventing future cold sore flare-ups involves adopting a combination of lifestyle changes and strategies to reduce triggers and boost your immune system. Here are some methods and tips to help you avoid future cold sore outbreaks:

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Manage stress

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Boost your immune system

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Regularly apply sunscreen to your face

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Try to stay out of extreme temperatures 

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Avoid fatigue and high-stress levels

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Stay hydrated and well-rested

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Cold Sores Overview

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Answer questions about your health

Enter patient information and medical history as well as answer questions relating to your symptoms. This should only take about five or ten minutes.

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Our providers will review your visit

Our board-certified medical providers will create a custom treatment plan based on your condition and medical history. You can follow your treatment status with our consultation tracker any time after your visit has been submitted, this is located in your patient dashboard.

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Get Rx delivered to your pharmacy or doorstep

Pick up your prescription at your pharmacy of choice within 1-2 hours.  After you receive your treatment plan, connect with your pharmacy to see when they will have your Rx fulfilled. For some medications we offer home delivery options for your convenience.

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