Sign up for a free Medical News Today account to customize your medical and health news experiences. Stages of a cold sore with abreva years, most cold sores simply had to run their course, causing pain for days or weeks. Today, however, there are safe and effective ways to help stop them or shorten the time they appear on a person's face.
The best approach to treating a cold sore is to attack it early before it can even be seen. This involves having the right medications on hand so they can be used at the earliest sign of a sore. People who are prone to cold sores should also get to know what triggers them to help reduce the number of outbreaks. Finally, because cold sores are highly contagious, it is crucial to know how to avoid spreading them to others. Though cold sores cannot be avoided all the time, people should always try to treat them as soon as they can.
Most people who get cold sores report that they can feel one coming before it appears on their skin. So, people who have them should watch for signs that a cold sore may be developing. Tingling, burning, or itching may be felt around the lips for several hours or a day before the cold sore appears.
This is the best time to begin treating the cold sore. People who frequently get cold sores may want to have the appropriate medications on hand so that they can begin using them at the earliest possible stage. The medicines that have been proven to work on cold sores are called antivirals, and they work to stop a virus from replicating.
This, in turn, can stop the cold sore from developing or may reduce its size and healing time.
Antiviral medications are only available with a prescription. Cold sore antivirals come in two different forms:.
Antivirals are well-tolerated by most people. However, not everyone can or should take antivirals.
The benefits and risks must be discussed with a doctor. People may wish to have a prescription filled out and ready rather than wait for the next cold sore to appear before they ask for one. This way, the medication can be taken or applied as soon as the tingling or other symptoms begin. Due to their potentially embarrassing nature, many people look to get rid of cold sores overnight. However, preventing a cold sore is quicker and safer approach than treating an outbreak.
People can try to avoid triggers that cause cold sores, keeping the sores on their skin Stages of a cold sore with abreva appearing in the first place. Not all cold sores can be prevented, but knowing what triggers them is an important step in cold sore management. Common cold sore triggers include:.
Keeping a diary or log may help a person work out what triggers their cold sores. Writing down things, such as diet, activities, illnesses, and life events can help narrow down what has preceded the outbreak. An added benefit of knowing cold sore triggers is the ability to be even more proactive in taking medications.
Consequently, if a person knows they were exposed to a cold sore trigger, they can be especially watchful for early signs and get started on medications right away, if needed. Antiviral medications may only be prescribed for those who have recurrent cold sores.
For an occasional sore that does not need a prescription medication, over-the-counter products or natural remedies may help with healing and appearance. Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus HSV. HSV type 1, which most often causes cold sores, can be spread through casual kissing, sharing utensils or drinks, and by touching the face.
Many children and babies are exposed to HSV type 1 through adults who unknowingly give them the virus by kissing them or touching their face. The American Academy of Pediatrics AAP say that more than half of Americans have the virus in their body by the time they are adults, most of them having been exposed to it before age 5 years.
Once a person gets HSV, they will have it for life as the virus stays in the body and has no cure. HSV may remain inactive for months or even years, causing no symptoms.
However, certain triggers can cause it to become active again, resulting in a cold sore. Cold sores spread easily from person to person. They can spread even when someone does not have an active sore. The HSV virus can spread to the eyes, causing scarring of the cornea or blindness. Cold sores in babies can be dangerous, as their immune systems have not fully developed.