The Truth about Cold Sores

Source:  The Truth about Cold Sores    Tag:  prodromal stage of infection
I've noticed that quite a few people on my set have cold sores right now. I wanted to be able to help them and give them some sound advise about treatment options. So I did some research on line. Cold sores are very common and I thought you guys might like to know too.
Here is the info I gathered and organized into a q and a format to make it easy to read.*

Cold sores are blisters on the lips and the edge of the mouth that are caused by an infection with the herpes simplex virus (HSV).
You may not develop cold sores when you are first infected with HSV. If cold sores do develop when you are first infected, they may be more severe than in later outbreaks. During the first outbreak of cold sores, the blisters may spread to any part of the mouth.

After you become infected, HSV remains in your body and may cause cold sores to return throughout your lifetime (recurrent cold sores). Most people have fewer outbreaks as they get older.

About 6 to 48 hours before a cold sore is visible, you may feel tingling, burning, itching, numbness, tenderness, or pain in the affected area. This is called the prodromal stage.

Some common triggers that cause cold sores to return include:
Sunlight exposure
Stress or fatigue
Other infections, such as a cold or influenza.
Food allergies
Dental treatment or injury to the lips or gums
A lowered immunity system

Yes. The blisters of HSV-1 contain the virus that causes cold sores. Without proper hygiene, this virus can be very contagious. This is why it is important if you have cold sores to wash your hands often, especially after you may have touched your face. Do not share cups, utensils or makeup products with another person during an outbreak.
Replace your toothbrush after the cold sores have crusted over and again when they are gone completely to help prevent a reoccurrence.
DO NOT touch a cold sore with your fingers. The virus can be transferred to other parts of your face or body quite easily. They are also highly susceptible to secondary bacteria infections. Use a clean q tip or tissue to apply medications and do not double dip.

Cold sore blisters usually break open, weep clear fluid, and then crust over and disappear after a few days.

Treatment with medicines depends on whether you are having a first outbreak or a recurrent outbreak or are trying to prevent future outbreaks.
When treating a first outbreak of cold sores, oral antiviral medicines may reduce pain and slightly improve healing time.
For treatment of recurrent cold sores, the following medicines may reduce the severity and duration of the outbreak:
Topical creams or ointments, which are available with or without a prescription, can reduce pain, itching, and healing time.
In some severe cases, a doctor may prescribe a drug like acyclovir (Zovirax), which may help shorten the length of the outbreak but should be used when the first symptoms (such as burning or itching) begin. These medicines have little effect after the sore develops.
Oral antivirals may also be taken daily to prevent recurring cold sores, especially in people who have frequent and painful outbreaks.

Complementary medicine
No complementary medicines have been proved to be effective in the treatment or prevention of cold sores. But several complementary treatments are available if you wish to try an alternative way to ease your symptoms.
Vitamin C, lysine supplements, and lemon balm are examples of complementary treatments that may provide some relief during a cold sore outbreak.
Zinc oxide topical cream may reduce the duration of an outbreak.

There is no cure for cold sores, nor is there a cure for the herpes simplex virus (HSV) that causes them. Most cold sores will go away on their own. But medicines may slightly reduce the duration of cold sores and sometimes prevent a future outbreak.

*WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.