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Cold Sore Treatment

Woman in a grey shirt covers her mouth with her hands

 Cold sores are small blisters that form around the mouth. They are caused by the herpes simplex virus (most commonly the HSV-1 variant). Cold sores are only temporary, and should clear up on their own within seven to 10 days. However, it is possible to speed up your recovery time with medical treatment.


Cold Sore Remedies 

Antiviral Creams 

You can easily buy antiviral cold sore creams over the counter from high street pharmacies. Popular brands include Zovirax and Cymex. Antiviral cold sore creams must be applied when symptoms first begin. If you start to apply antiviral cream after the cold sore has fully developed, you are unlikely to see any improvement. 

The early symptoms of a cold sore include a tingling or burning sensation around the mouth. If you start to experience these symptoms, you should apply your cold sore cream as soon as possible. You will typically have to apply the cream 5 times a day for 5 days. 

Cold Sore Patches 

Cold sore patches are different to cold sore creams as they are applied after infection has developed. This makes them a good option if you already have a cold sore. 

You use a cold sore patch by peeling it off and sticking it over the cold sore. It works by helping the blister to heal, and also effectively covers the area. You should wear the patch until it peels off. 

Antiviral Tablets 

In severe cases, you may require antiviral tablets. These will typically only be needed if you are experiencing complications from your cold sore. This is more of a risk if you have a compromised immune system. If you have a cold sore that is not going away, you should visit your doctor. 


Cold Sore Tips 

To ease the pain and discomfort of a cold sore you should stay hydrated, avoid eating foods that are salty or acidic, and consider using an antiseptic mouthwash. 

How can I avoid cold sores in the future? 

Cold sores are usually caused by HSV-1, a common form of the herpes simplex virus. The virus is spread through skin-to-skin contact, usually kissing on the lips. Cold sores can also be caused by HSV-2, which is the variant of herpes simplex that causes genital herpes. For this reason, having oral sex with someone who has genital herpes can lead to cold sores. 

Once you have contracted herpes simplex, you cannot be cured of it. It enters your system and lays dormant, flaring up  on occasion causing cold sores at later points in your life. Because of this it is very difficult to avoid getting cold sores again. However, there are some things that trigger the onset of a cold sore. These include: 

  • Infection
  • Fever
  • Stress
  • Tiredness
  • Menstruation
  • Bright sunlight 

If you have had cold sores in the past, the best thing you can do is watch out for early symptoms, especially if you are unwell, menstruating or under stress. If you can feel the early symptoms of tingling and burning around your mouth, buy antiviral cream and begin to apply it to the affected area. 

How can I avoid passing cold sores to other people? 

If you have the herpes simplex in your system, there is the danger of you spreading the virus to other people. Cold sores are at their most contagious when they have burst. You should avoid intimate contact with people during this time. 

You can also avoid spreading the virus by washing your hands after you have applied cold sore cream, and by avoiding sharing creams, lipsticks, cutlery or cups/glasses. You should also be particularly careful around people with compromised immune systems and newborn babies. 

You can browse cold sore treatments at LloydsPharmacy.