Cold sores are small blisters common during the cold season and they may get in the way of your regular dentist appointment.
But it’s no problem at My Local Dentists West Ryde Simply inform us when you have one and we will reschedule your appointment!
No worries, the blisters will normally heal within 8 to 10 days and we can resume your dental care then! However, it is important to make sure that you really have cold sore for it may be confused with other mouth sores!
Putting the Chill On Cold Sores
If you have ever suffered from a cold sore, you know they can be embarrassing and painful. It might make you feel better to know that you are not alone: Around 85 per cent of Australians carry herpes simplex type one, the virus most associated with cold sores, and 20 per cent of Australians have herpes simplex type two.
This may seem high, but many of us are carriers although we never show symptoms. Some infected people do not display any signs of the virus, and never have an outbreak of cold sores.
Cold sores are a type of the herpes virus, which means it never leaves your body, staying in a dormant state until something causes it to reappear. The sores usually appear on or around the lips, as blisters that go through a series of unattractive and painful stages over about 8 to 12 days.
Because the virus is common, easy to transmit, and annoying, at My Local Dentists West Ryde, we want you to have the knowledge needed to avoid, suppress, and treat cold sores, as well as ensuring you don’t pass the virus along to others.
Cold sore triggers
The HSV virus ‘hides’ in your nervous system and is usually dormant. However, certain triggers can bring it back to activity. These triggers include extreme temperatures, sunlight/sunburn, stress, menstruation, and injury to the skin.
Here is a general list of potential triggers:
- Ultraviolet (UV) exposure (e.g. sunlight and sunburn)
- Mouth trauma
- Hormonal changes
Obviously, a critical strategy in avoiding cold sore outbreaks is to avoid triggers or know how to limit them.
Treating cold sores before they erupt
The most effective time to treat a cold sore is as soon as you feel an itching or tingling around your mouth. These symptoms may become apparent a few days before blisters break out, and it is at this time that the virus is most treatable.
The number one medical approach to cold sores is antivirals. Your doctor may recommend a prescription antiviral (tablet or topical cream) to treat your cold sores. Antivirals may reduce the length of an acute outbreak or prevent new outbreaks.
To reduce your risk of a significant outbreak, you should begin antiviral therapy medication immediately upon feeling the approach of a cold sore, even if no blisters are yet apparent.
Prescription antivirals include:
- acyclovir (Zovirax)
- famciclovir (Famvir)
- penciclovir (Denavir)
- valacyclovir (Valtrex)
Because it is essential to use these medicines quickly, you may want to consider holding a prescription in hand, ahead of any symptoms. This way you can begin medication at the moment you feel a cold sore coming on.
If a cold sore has erupted
At this point, you’re in damage control. Consider:
Placing a cool, wet towel on the cold sore three times daily for 10 minutes, can help manage pain, redness, and swelling. It also helps remove crusting and promote healing.
DO NOT pick at a cold sore. If you don’t leave it alone, you may lengthen the healing process. If you do touch it, don’t touch other body parts, especially your eyes. Wash your hands as quickly as possible.
Avoid acids. Tomatoes and citrus fruits contain acid that can bother the skin and increase pain. But you still need Vitamin C to boost your white blood cell count. Take tablets containing Vitamin C to get your body fighting for you.
Use appropriate pain medication. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can manage the pain and swelling caused by a cold sore. Ask your doctor if you have questions.
Consider home remedies. A quick trip to the Internet will reveal a host of natural, at-home approaches to cold sores. Find the one that works best for you.
Preventing recurrence and spread
To reduce or prevent the return of cold sores and to prevent their spread to others:
- Don’t share things like razors, towels, and eating utensils.
- Avoid close or direct contact with other people when cold sores (or any symptoms) are present.
- Avoid things that may trigger cold sores, such as fatigue, stress, and excess sun exposure.
- Frequently clean cold sores with warm water and nonprotein soap, and keep sores dry.
- Avoid touching cold sores.
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
- Use moisturisers or lip balm to keep the lips moist.
- Use topical skin protectants to prevent cold sores from becoming infected.
- Avoid foods high in the amino acid arginine during an outbreak.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages, which may hinder immune system response to cold sores.
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