How to treat cold sores

If you have a cold sore – small blisters
on the lip or around the mouth – you’re not alone. More than half of Americans ages 14 to 49 carry the virus that causes cold sores. This virus stays in the body, even after the
cold sores clear. If the virus reactivates, or wakes up, you
will get cold sores. Cold sores are different from canker sores,
which are not caused by a virus and occur inside of your mouth. Many things can trigger cold sores, including: Stress, fatigue, or being run-down A cold, fever or flu Exposure to the sun Hormonal changes, such as during menstruation or pregnancy Or, trauma, such as shaving, cuts, dental work; or facial or cosmetic surgery Cold sores may appear just once in a person’s
lifetime or return again and again. Although most cold sores heal on their own,
there are things you can do to help manage your symptoms.

Follow these tips from dermatologists for
treating cold sores at home. Burning, itching, or tingling may be the first
sign that a cold sore may be coming. When cold sores appear, apply an over-the-counter
antiviral cream or ointment. Although not always effective, this may help
slow the reproduction of the virus and relieve the symptoms. You can also take ibuprofen or acetaminophen
to help reduce pain. While you have a cold sore, avoid foods that
contain acid, such as tomatoes and citrus fruits. These could irritate the skin and add to the
pain. Place a cool, wet towel on the sores for about
5-10 minutes. Do this a few times daily to help reduce the
redness and irritation. Cold sores usually heal in a few days to 2
weeks. However, prescription oral antiviral medication
may be helpful in shortening the episode if taken within the first 72 hours. This medication may also be used for prevention
if you get cold sores frequently. Unlike canker sores, cold sores are highly
contagious. If you have a cold sore, avoid intimate contact
– such as kissing – and sharing cups, towels, razors, toothbrushes and any other
objects that may have come in contact with your cold sores.

This will help prevent the cold sores from spreading
to another person. To find a dermatologist in your area, visit
aad.org..

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