Cold sores typically resolve without requiring treatment in 7-10 days. You can utilize antiviral creams to minimize the severity of the symptoms and effective if used earlier when the sores are still starting to develop.
Cold sores are brought about by the herpes simplex virus. The first sore typically develops in childhood. The virus is usually present in the moist inner skin lining the mouth. It is spread via skin interaction such as kissing. Take note that the first infection will not trigger any symptoms.
After the initial infection, the virus settles in the adjacent nerve sheath and remains there. In most cases, the virus is dormant and does not cause any symptoms. Nevertheless, the virus can become active every now and then. Some of the factors that can trigger the activation of the virus that results to cold sores include the following:
- Illnesses such as flu and common cold
- Direct exposure to sunlight
What are the indications?
There is a tingling or itching sensation before the blisters manifest, usually around the nose or lips. This can last for several hours or even a day or so. After the tingling, one or several sore blisters develop. These blisters are filled with fluid and even weep. It takes several days for the formation of scabs to occur.
Once the cold sores have scabbed and dried, it is highly infectious and readily spreads to others. The scab slowly vanishes after a week. Some of the virus will stay dormant in the nerve sheath that will later trigger cold sores in the future.
Management of cold sores
For pain relief, pain-killing gels can be used such as choline salicylate gel. In some cases, lidocaine is also used which is a local anesthetic gel.
Antiviral creams work by preventing the virus from multiplying. It has minimal effect on the blisters but can prevent them from getting worse. If an antiviral cream is used as soon as the symptoms start, the sores might not last long and less severe.
The oral antiviral tablets are not regularly used for the management of cold sores. These are usually given in severe cases of cold sores, in newborn infants or individuals with a weakened immune system.
In some individuals, laser treatment is effective particularly narrow-band light or photodynamic therapy. A device which delivers narrow-band light is readily available in pharmacies.