Although there is no way to make cold sores go away immediately, they will typically heal within 5-15 days.
Cold sores result from herpes simplex type 1, the cause of cold sores, which appear as small, fluid-filled blisters on the face. These blisters usually go away on their own within a fortnight.
Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are widespread, affecting almost half to four-fifths of adults. When a person has cold sores, they are diagnosed with oral herpes.
This article discusses the symptoms and treatments of cold sores and the various treatments and home remedies available. Also, we'll be able to guide you on what to avoid and when to seek professional medical help.
Infection with the HSV-1 virus can cause you to develop cold sores. This disease is highly contagious, and there is no cure. However, it is not typically associated with any serious health consequences.
Small, fluid-filled blisters can be seen on any part of the face but are often found around the lips or inside the mouth. They are commonly referred to as cold sores.
A blister may cause the person to experience the following symptoms:
After two days, the blister will rupture and leak fluid infected with the virus. Then, the blister will form a scab and start to heal.
Approximately one-third of people with HSV-1 may experience recurrences of cold sores over time. It may only occur once for some people, while the sores can reappear periodically for others.
Although there is no instant cure for cold sores, these treatments can help reduce the symptoms:
Over-the-counter (OTC) ointments: Applying a topical cream that contains zinc oxide, zinc sulfate, or an anaesthetic can be beneficial in preventing a sore from forming if applied as soon as the person feels one coming on. Additionally, using docosanol (Abreva) ointment may also be effective.
Pain relief: Taking medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help alleviate pain, reduce swelling, and ease discomfort.
Antiviral medications: It's possible to treat cold sores effectively by addressing the viral infection that causes them. Quick action is essential to manage the symptoms of the cold sore. On average, the healing of a cold sore can be accelerated by one day through creams containing aciclovir, according to a trusted source. Antiviral drugs such as aciclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir can be taken in tablet form. In cases where the condition is severe, an IV treatment may be suggested by a doctor.
A warm compress can be used to help reduce discomfort from a cold sore, and once it has scabbed over, applying petroleum jelly can help keep it moist and prevent any cracking.
Studies conducted in lab and animal settings have indicated that certain extracts derived from plants and propolis, a compound generated by bees, may be beneficial against Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 (HSV-1).
The following are among them:
Lemon balm essential oil: This essential oil effectively eliminates herpes viruses.
Tea tree essential oil: A study revealed that this could effectively eliminate the herpes simplex viruses type 1 and 2.
Aloe vera gel extract: According to the study, this could be a potential approach to fight against HSV-1.
Propolis: a research study concluded that a combination of honey and aciclovir was more successful in treating herpes viruses than either treatment alone.
Additional research is necessary to determine the effects of these studies in humans.
Before utilising natural treatments, including essential oils, it is essential to seek medical advice. These remedies may trigger skin reactions or other unfavourable outcomes and interact with prescribed medications.
It is necessary to dilute essential oils in a carrier oil before use on the face. The concentration should range from 0.2% to 1.5%. In addition, caution must be taken to ensure that essential oils are not ingested.
Before using essential oils, it is crucial to speak to a healthcare professional and research the quality of the brand's products, as the Food and Drug Administration does not monitor or regulate the purity or quality of essential oils. A patch test before trying new essential oil is also always recommended. Despite research suggesting potential health benefits, care must be taken with essential oils.
To prevent the spread of oral herpes, infected individuals should take steps to ensure the virus does not spread to others.
Here are some things to keep in mind when making decisions:
Touching or picking the cold sore: Touching a blister can cause the virus that caused the blister to be spread to another person, as the virus will transfer from the hands to the other person. Therefore, it is important to avoid touching blisters to prevent the spread of the virus.
Kissing: Until cold sores around the mouth have fully healed, it is essential to avoid kissing, as the virus that causes them is most contagious when the blisters are present.
Oral sex: Transmitting HSV-1 from the mouth to the genitals can cause genital herpes. Awareness of the early signs of a cold sore, such as tingling, itching, or burning in the affected area, is essential. To prevent the spread of HSV-1, it is recommended to avoid oral sex or use a form of protection, like a condom.
Sharing personal items: It is best not to use the same cutlery, toothbrush, lipstick, or any other items that may come into contact with a cold sore with other people.
Cold sores can be triggered by some factors, according to the observations of the Herpes Viruses Association (HVA). These triggers may cause the sores to resurface.
Nonetheless, individuals can take action to decrease the possibility of the sores reappearing.
Antiviral medications may be prescribed for short-term relief if individuals know they have been exposed to any triggers that can weaken the immune system. It is recommended to take the drug for one week.
A doctor might suggest taking antiviral medications for an extended period to minimise the occurrence of flare-ups.
A salve or cream containing lemon balm mint (Melissa officinalis) may prevent outbreaks of the condition if applied as soon as any initial symptom is felt. These symptoms may include a tingling sensation.
To keep cold sores from being exposed to the sun's damaging UV rays, it is recommended to use lip balm that has an SPF of 30 or higher. Additionally, if this lip balm is used regularly, it may prevent new sores from forming.
The early detection of a sore, which may be characterised by tingling or burning sensations, can help to prevent it from worsening. Prompt treatment of the symptom can help to stop the sore from fully developing.
If a cold sore does not show signs of improvement within 5–15 days, it is recommended to contact a doctor for advice. If the sore persists for two weeks or more, it is crucial to get a doctor.
A sore should also be reported to a medical professional if the following are present:
Sometimes, a doctor may recommend antiviral medication to those with a weaker immune system. If a person experiences a high fever or chills, it is important to contact a medical professional immediately.
There is no cure for HSV-1, meaning cold sores cannot be eliminated quickly.
Cold sores usually take 5-15 days without medical intervention to heal. However, antiviral medication can help reduce the time it takes for a cold sore to heal, shortening the duration by approximately one day.
OTC pain relievers, creams, ointments, and warm compresses can relieve discomfort.
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