Although there is no cure for the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1 and HSV-2) that causes them, cold sore breakouts can be managed and avoided. Cold sores, sometimes called fever blisters, appear around the lips and mouth and are often associated with red, swollen and irritated skin around the breakout areas.
About Cold Sores:
The HSV-1 virus is transmitted by direct contact with infected skin or saliva. A primary infection may occur during childhood and cause a fever, sore gums, sore throat and swollen or tender glands in the neck. After that, the virus remains dormant in nerve roots near the infected skin. In some people, the virus rarely, if ever, reactivates. But in others, recurrences called secondary herpes episodes may occur, producing cold sores. While medical experts have not determined the exact cause for reactivation, a variety of stimuli, such as stress, dental treatment, illness, trauma to the lips or sun exposure can precipitate an outbreak.
Symptoms of Cold Sores:
- Pain around the mouth
- Fever and sore throat
- Swollen neck glands (lymph nodes)
Causes of Cold Sore Outbreaks:
- Chapped Lips
- Extreme sunlight exposure
- Physical exhaustion or illness
There is no cure for cold sores; however, our dentist can prescribe the use of medications that can be useful for their treatment and prevention. Although none of these medications will eliminate the dormant HSV-1 infection that causes cold sores, they can help the sores heal faster and relieve the associated pain and discomfort. They also can also help to suppress a cold-sore outbreak.
These drugs are effective in helping to prevent an outbreak of cold sores during a time of increased susceptibility and can help decrease recurrent outbreaks. Other treatments include topical antiviral creams and ointments. In addition, some of the topical treatments may reduce the average size and duration of a cold sore.
For advice and treatment of cold sores, call Chesapeake Center for Complete Dentistry at 757-381-6876.