They’re painful, annoying, highly contagious, and can totally ruin an otherwise perfectly awesome selfie. Cold sores—also called fever blisters—affect both men and women and are common worldwide. Usually caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (HSV1) these little beauties first grace us with a subtle itch and tingle. If not treated, the tingling sensation can become an embarrassing nightmare of a lesion that first oozes then crusts over.
Once a person is infected, the virus lives happily ever after in the body and causes occasional attacks. When the body’s immune system is weakened, these unsightly outbreaks can disrupt your lifestyle for up to two weeks. Here’s what you need to know about triggers and treatment.
Not every cold sore is caused by the same thing but there are a few common factors that may trigger an episode. Some alarms that can wake up a dormant virus are:
- Ultraviolet (UV) exposure
- Hormonal changes
- Mouth trauma
A highly successful and ruthless virus, approximately 100 million Americans are infected with HSV1. Thankfully, relief is just around the corner with these FDA approved treatment options.
Antiviral prescription medications may help shorten the length of an outbreak. With episodic therapy, oral medication is administered at the first sign of an outbreak. Topical medications include prescription antiviral creams and non-prescription cream, docosanol (Abreva). Abreva is the only over-the-counter topical medicament approved by the FDA for cold sore treatment.
Laser wavelengths are the best bet if you really want to speed up the healing process and get your life back. A laser bandage is created to protect the sore and promote healing. Patients experience nothing more than a warm sensation on and around the lesion during treatment. Waves of light disinfect the sore, hastens healing time, reduces inflammation, and relieves pain. Most laser treated lesions are cured during the first 48 hours.
There's relief for cold sore sufferers. Ask your doctor which treatment option is best for you.