If you suffer from cold sores, you know that it is icky and insidious skin condition. Commonly known as fever blisters, this infection is caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). The virus is highly contagious and can be easily passed from person to person by close direct contact. After someone catches the infection, the virus can remain dormant for years. The virus is usually activated by triggers, including stress, anxiety, depression, illness, or even sunbathing.
After the virus is triggered, small blisters develop on the lips or around the mouth. Cold sores usually start with a tingling, itching or burning sensation around mouth. Soon small fluid-filled sores appear on the edges of your lower lip. Sores usually clear up by themselves within 7-10 days. However, as the infection is contagious, cold sores treatment is essential.
You can’t cure the HSV-2 infection and hence, sores can appear anytime. Treatments can only help ease signs and symptoms of the infection and speed up the healing time. Here are some of common cold sores treatments available in the UK:
- Topical creams
There are several antiviral creams on the market that can help reduce redness and itching on the sore. Over-the-counter antiviral cold sore creams usually contain medication such as aciclovir or penciclovir. These creams are available from pharmacies without a prescription. However, they are only effective if you apply them as soon as the first signs of a cold sore appear. Then, there are natural formulations like ZymaDerm for Cold Sores that help relieve itching and inflammation. This fast-acting healing support formula can also help prevent outbreak if used early.
Cold sore patches that contain a special gel called hydrocolloid are also available in the UK. They are placed over the sore to hide it while it heals. They are also an effective treatment for skin wounds. You can buy them over-the-counter from pharmacies without proscription.
Can cold sores cause complications?
Cold sores are usually mild. However, in rare cases, they can cause complications. People with a weak immune system are at risk of developing serious complications. Dehydration, Herpetic whitlow (whitlow finger), Herpetic keratoconjunctivitis (infection in eye) and Encephalitis (infection in brain) are some of the complications of cold sores. Visit your GP if you are at risk of developing complications. Treatments recommended will depend on the severity of symptoms and the complication that is causing problems.