March 15th, 2016
14th February is Valentine’s Day, when couples celebrate their undying love for each other. Valentine’s Day can be a lovely gesture but can be a problem if you happen to have cold sores.
Cold sores are small blisters that develop on the lips and around the mouth. They usually cause tingling, itching or a burning sensation. They can be passed very easily, especially through direct contact such as kissing.
They are caused by the herpes simplex virus and are highly contagious. There may be no symptoms when you are first infected, as the virus lies dormant in your nerves until it is triggered at a later date. This original, or primary, infection usually happens in early childhood when, for example, a child is kissed by a family member or friend with a cold sore.
Every so often the virus can be activated by certain triggers. These triggers vary from person to person but can include:
However, often there is no obvious trigger for an outbreak.
Cold sores usually clear up themselves within about 7-10 days. However there are antiviral creams, like Aciclovir or Panciclovir, that you can buy from any of our pharmacy branches without a prescription. If used correctly, these can help ease your symptoms and sped up the healing time.
To be effective you should apply these creams at the first sign that a cold sore is appearing. This is when you are feeling a tingling, itching or burning sensation around your mouth. Using an antiviral cream after this initial period is unlikely to have much effect. They should be applied up to five times a day for four to five days and then discarded.
There are also cold sore patches that contain a special gel called hydrocolloid. They are effective for skin wounds and are placed over the sore area to hide it while it heals.
These treatments do not get rid of the virus or prevent future outbreaks.
It is not possible to prevent he primary infection or prevent an outbreak of cold sores. You van, however, take steps to minimise the infection. Cold sores are at their most contagious when they burst until they have completely healed.
Other people should avoid contact with your cold sore, and the surrounding area, until it is completely healed. There is no need to stay away from work or your child to miss school.
You can help minimise the spread of the cold sore virus by:
For more advice about this, or any other minor ailment, ask for a chat with one of our pharmacists. All conversations can be held in one of our private consultation rooms for privacy if you prefer.