Cold sores are an annoyance that many of us have reckoned with, but not everyone knows that cold sores are a symptom of the herpes virus. Treating cold sores and other herpes symptoms is not hard, but your dermatologist can help immensely.
When most people hear about herpes, they usually only think of it as a sexually transmitted disease. But the herpes simplex virus can be transmitted through contact with any affected skin or contaminated surfaces. Cold sores are almost always caused by the herpes simplex virus and are usually spread through skin-to-skin contact. Most people who contract herpes on their mouth are children who have been kissed by adults carrying the virus. Herpes can also spread via straws or eating utensils, as well as through used towels that have come into contact with the virus. When a person contracts herpes, they have it for life, even if the symptoms go away.
The herpes virus is dormant in the body, but can become activated and cause cold sores. Cold sores generally form in breakouts similar to acne or other skin conditions that come and go. Common triggers for cold sores include stress, fatigue, injury, and illness (such as colds and flus). Your dermatologist can help you understand the many possible triggers that lead to a cold sore outbreak.
Cold sores are usually minor annoyances, but they can cause discomfort and are at the very least unsightly and embarrassing. While there’s no need to be embarrassed (statistics show that about half of all Americans have the herpes virus), treating your cold sore can offer you peace of mind and comfort.
Herpes simplex virus (HSV) has no cure. The good news is that herpes symptoms like cold sores or other skin problems are easily managed with the right medication and precautions. The best way to prevent herpes is to avoid skin-to-skin contact with people who have it, but it’s possible to have HSV without even knowing it. For some people, cold sores are so mild they can be mistaken for acne, or only occur once.
Cold sores can be itchy or cause pain and burning. To treat these kinds of symptoms, ice the affected skin or use dermatologist recommended creams and ointments for pain relief. Certain foods that are high in acidity like tomatoes or citrus fruits can cause pain and irritation when you have a cold sore. Salty and spicy foods also exacerbate symptoms. Applying petroleum jelly to your cold sore will keep it hydrated and prevent drying and cracking. Whenever you apply ointment or cream to your cold sore, use a cotton swab as your fingers can spread bacteria leading to infection.
If you suffer from cold sores with any frequency, you should reach out to a trustworthy dermatologist. There are ways to treat cold sores without prescriptions, but only your doctor will be able to recommend the best course of treatment for your herpes symptoms. Prescription antivirals can stop a herpes flare up or prevent cold sores from growing and spreading.
Antivirals usually come in the form of oral or topical medications, but they can be administered via IV if herpes symptoms are severe. In cases of severe pain, your doctor may prescribe a topical painkiller like lidocaine to ease burning and stinging. The quicker you seek treatment, the less discomfort you’ll feel.
Treating cold sores early reduces their length of visibility so that you can regain your confidence. If you have other skin conditions or health issues affecting your immune system, we advise avoiding further complications by getting an antiviral treatment whenever an outbreak begins.
Cold sores and other symptoms of the herpes virus are not often extreme, but they can still cause a number of health problems and make your life difficult. If you suffer from cold sores or other herpes outbreaks, reach out to your New England dermatologist for advice and treatment.