Cold Sores Patient Guide
Developed by the dermatologists of Skin Care Guide

Cold Sores: Why and when to treat them

Why and when to treat cold sores
It is estimated to affect 1 in 5 Canadians annually and is associated with a negative stigma that can lead to depression, fear of rejection, and isolation for infected individuals during an outbreak.

Why should cold sores be treated?

There are several reasons to treat cold sores including:
  • To help stop the virus from multiplying to reduce lesions and speed healing
  • To 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.

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).