Kiss Off, Cold Sores!
by Sher Agency
- minute read
- 2 Min Video
By Brooke Larsen, DNP
Herpes simplex or “cold sores” are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1). Cold sores have described by physicians since ancient times and the word “herpes” was used by Greek scholars meaning “to creep or crawl”. Cold sores most commonly affect the mouth and lips but can occur in other places such as the nose, cheeks, or eyes.
HSV is highly contagious and has a worldwide distribution. It is spread primarily through direct contact with contaminated saliva and can be spread with or without blisters being present. 90% of the adult population have HSV-1 antibodies, showing previous exposure to the virus. It is uncommon for children younger than 10 to produce any visible signs of cold sores. The virus can be reactivated simultaneously or can be brought on by stress, sunlight, fever, or tissue damage, hence the names: fever blisters, cold sores.
Cold sores can vary from person-to-person in how they manifest. The primary exposure may produce general symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, loss of appetite, and fever as well as localized pain, tenderness and burning around the mouth and lips. This usually occurs 3-7 days after exposure and prior to the eruption of the cold sore(s). Cold sores can produce pain, inflammation, swelling, blisters, ulcers, and crusts.
In subsequent eruptions it is very common to experience itching and tingling where the outbreak usually occurs, this is called the prodromal stage.
Sun protection can help decrease the number of eruptions. Meticulous handwashing is also important to prevent the spread of the disease, especially to the eyes. Your doctor can also prescribe antiviral medication to treat cold sores. Early initiation of the medication is key in reducing the duration of viral shedding, pain, severity, and time to heal.
Are you or a loved one dealing with a stubborn cold sore? Schedule an appointment with us today to say, “So long,” to cold sores!