If you ever had a cold sore in your life, then you know the annoying signs. When they first start to appear, you get this tingling and/or burning sensation in the edge of your lip. Then the ugly red sore appears before it breaks open and crusts over. Cold sores are really a pain in the…mouth. Not only are they painful, but they can really mess with your smile too. The only thing everyone wants when they get cold sores is to get rid of them, fast, and cheap. However, you probably don’t need a doctor for that.
The bad news is that once you come into contact with someone who has a cold sore, you’re probably going to get it too, and it will remain in your system for the rest of your life, even if it doesn’t cause cold sores or other symptoms. What causes cold sores to appear can be blamed on the herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1) virus, but sometimes even the herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-2) can do that too, but mostly this one usually affects the genital area.
When a person is initially infected with herpes, the virus makes its way through nerve cells to nerve-branching points a.k.a ganglia. The virus will stay there in an inactive or dormant state, completely not replicating or causing any symptoms. However, when the dormant virus does reactivate, it enters the replication process and travels back through the nerve to the surface of the skin. Given this, the infected cells on the surface of the skin are killed, causing blisters to form. These blisters are what we know as cold sores.
The herpes simplex virus is spread by close contact such as kissing someone with a cold sore, touching someone’s face and then your own, sharing lip balms, eating utensil, and even razors with someone who has cold sores. Although cold sores usually go away within two to four weeks and don’t leave any marks, there are several types of prescription antiviral drugs that speed up the healing process. The most prescribed ones are the following:
- Acyclovir (Xerese, Zovirax)
- Valacyclovir (Valtrex)
- Famciclovir (Famvir)
- Penciclovir (Denavir)
It’s worth noting that some of the products are packaged as pills to be swallowed, while others are creams that are recommended to be applied to the sores several times a day. However, it is estimated that pills work better than creams. In fact, in some severe infections, antiviral drugs are used. One of the most popular of them all is Zovirax or acyclovir. Acyclovir is the oldest antiviral medication that has been around since 1982 in the form of the cream, and as a pill since 1985. Acyclovir works wonders, especially for people with a comprised immune system and frequent outbreaks, as it helps reduce the number of future outbreaks and decreases the risk of more serious infections.
All in all, do yourself a favor and stay away from foods that are likely to irritate a cold sore. You might want to avoid pretzels, hot sauce, or citrus fruits as they could make the pain even worse. Also, this one is very important: DO NOT touch your cold sore. Don’t pick at it because this way you will only prolong the healing process or make it more irritated. Keep in mind that cold sores are highly contagious, so be sure to wash your hands as soon as possible to avoid spreading it to another area or to somebody else.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article: text, graphics, images, and other materials contained are strictly for informational purposes only. The Content is NOT intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice, or treatment. Please ALWAYS seek the advice of a qualified health provider with all the questions that you have related to, or about, a medical condition.
You might also want to read: