Cold Sores
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Cold Sores: why and when to treat them

Why should cold sores be treated?

There are several reasons to treat cold sores including:

  • to treat the symptoms to reduce the pain and speed healing
  • to prevent transmission to other parts of the body and to others
  • to prevent or treat recurrences

Cold sores can be uncomfortable, unsightly and embarrassing for sufferers and they also carry the risk of spreading the herpes virus to other parts of the body or to other people. The virus can be spread by the fingers or items such as cutlery, glasses/cups, water bottles, towels, lipstick, or razors.

Direct contact with the colds sore can spread the virus to others especially through kissing or sexual contact. Even, cuddling and kissing your own children can spread the virus.

Playing sports is another way to spread the virus onto the cheek, other parts of the body or to other players, especially if equipment or showers are shared and if there are cuts or trauma to the skin. This type of herpes is called herpes galaditorium

Sexual contact can transmit or spread the herpes virus to the lips, eyes or genital skin. People who have eczema need to be extra cautious with cold sores as the herpes virus can infect their damaged eczema skin making their condition worse. This is called eczema herpeticum.

When should cold sores be treated?

There are a number of things to consider in the treatment of cold sores. The most important thing is to treat the cold sore at the very first sign or symptom (tingle, itching, redness, small blister) of a cold sore.

It is not too late to treat them after the blisters have formed but the treatment may not be as effective. Treatment should include some practical steps as well as medication (either non-prescription or prescription).


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