Advertisement
It is important to understand what causes cold sores before getting into the treatment part of this condition. Cold sores are caused by a virus infection and at times it can be a debilitating condition. The herpes simplex virus (HSV) is the cause of cold sores, to be specific the HSV 1 strand of the herpes simplex virus causes cold sores. Only symptomatic treatment is possible if you have contracted this virus as there is no cure for this condition.

There are several medication options that will help you better deal with the symptoms arising due to the condition. Early detection is the key to alleviating the pain associated with cold sores and hastening the recovery time. Some treatments are available in the form of topical creams while others are in the form of oral medication.

Symptoms

One of the first symptoms indicating that you are getting cold sores is a burning or tingling sensation. This is known as 'prodrome', and happens before any visible signs of the sores. If the herpes simplex virus is active in your body the prodrome will precede visible symptoms by a day or two. The first visible sign of cold sores is the onset of blisters around the lip region. The blisters appear in groups and their base is a noticeable red color. Blisters dry up quickly and leave scabs which may last anywhere between a couple of days to a few weeks. You will also get an itching sensation in the area, which can be really discomforting.

Treatment

If you have cold sores, the itching and burning sensation in the area can become unbearable. To alleviate these symptoms you can get some over the counter topical medication, these products are good for treating symptoms of cold sores. If you want to get rid of cold sores, use topical anesthetics that have benzocaine, tetracaine or lidocaine.

Other prescription topical applications to ease the itching is Lipactin gel, it however, provides only temporary relief. The only food and drug administration (FDA) approved topical cream for cold sores is Abreva. It works by altering the cell membranes and protecting the healthy cells from the virus. The cream contains Docosanol 10% and is known to be an effective treatment option.

Cold sore medication which will hasten recovery are recommended by physicians. Prescription topical medication like acyclovir and penciclovir can be used to treat cold sores. These topical applications play a major role in reducing the healing time. Use the creams in regular intervals to get rid of the pain associated with the cold sore lesions. Your physician may also prescribe oral medication like Famvir (famciclovir) or Valtrex (valacyclovir).

Prevention

As there is no known cure for cold sores, taking preventive measures is one of the best options at your disposal. Cold sores are contagious, so to avoid infection don't share items like utensils, towels, and other items that might come in contact with the sores. Use sunscreen on the face and lips if you're planning to go out in the sun. Maintain high levels of hygiene and wash your hands every time you touch the sore to prevent them from spreading to other parts of the body. Avoid physical contact with people suffering from cold sores, things like kissing and sexual intercourse should also be avoided.

Medication can just provide you symptomatic treatment, so you will need to take proper care to avoid the spread of infection. Home remedies like applying a cold compress will also give you temporary relief.