Highly infectious but not debilitating in most cases, cold sores (or fever sores) are those red, blister lesions that form on the facial region. But the name can be quite misleading as cold sores are not linked to cold exposure. These sores are often caused by a viral infection and can be transmitted easily when close contact is made with an infected individual. It is claimed a majority of individuals test positive for the virus but not everyone elicits symptoms, which can form a recurring pattern. Knowing how to get rid of cold sores is essential in reducing its spread.
Causes of Cold sores
Cold sores have no cure and often relapse in individuals. It is caused by a virus (HSV-1 virus) and reversal of symptoms is best achieved when it is discovered early. If left untreated, it runs a natural course and clears in about 10 days. In very rare scenarios, oral sores can also be caused by HSV-2 virus, widely known to cause genital sores.
Close contact via kissing and oral sex with infected individuals enhance its spread. Warm temperatures are also known to enhance relapse of symptoms in individuals. Stress, fever, and menstruation in women are often other causes of relapsing cold sores.
Cold Sore Symptoms
First-time occurrence of the condition, especially young children, can be debilitating due to their weak immune system. In many adults, symptoms may never occur and the virus remains dormant. In others, certain triggers of the viral symptoms present onset of blisters, mouth ulcers and lesions. The lip also swells with itching and discomfort.
The condition is not always localized to the oral region, with the nose, cheek and chin other places you can find the blisters. Recurrent outbreaks often tend to appear around the same region.
Other symptoms of the viral condition are elevated body temperature, headache swollen glands, nausea and dehydration. Pharyngotonsillitis and gingivostomatitis may occur in primary onsets of symptoms in adults. Occasionally, complications may also affect the brain, causing encephalitis. The eyes are not ruled out too.
The viral infection can easily be identified in infected patients based on primary inspection. However, blood and fluid tests from the sores are not unlikely specimens used to determine the presence of the virus.
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How to get rid of Cold sores
The short lifespan of the infection makes it no cause for alarm. It is however advised to see a medical personnel in cases where children are infected due to their relatively weak defense system. Eye complications, if seen should also not be taken with a pinch of salt as they could lead to loss of sight.
Cold sore remedies often involve antiviral medications which are usually administered to reduce the duration of symptoms. Pencilovir and acyclovir containing creams are widely used and are effective when applied as soon as tingling sensations are felt prior a full-blown outbreak. Their use is not to rule out future outbreaks as the virus only assumes a state of dormancy. Due to associated pains, Ibuprofen and other pain relievers may also come in handy.
Treatment creams should carefully be applied in order to prevent infection spread. Although not common, the virus can spread to other broken parts of the body when contaminated hands come in contact with these areas.
Preventive measures against cold sores include avoiding kissing and other possible transmitting routes such as lipsticks, towels, cutlery and oral sex. Hands should also be washed thoroughly when contact is made on the sore with disinfectant soaps.