As an adolescent, it seemed like your skin just knew when it was picture day. You’d spend weeks thinking of the perfect hairstyle and outfit to memorialize yourself eternally in the annals of your school yearbook, only to awaken on picture day to find a giant pimple had formed overnight, right in the middle of your forehead and your life seemed, inevitably, over. While the drama of such mornings may have subsided substantially, we often find in adulthood that various kinds of pesky blemishes still pop up at the least convenient times. If you suffer from cold sores, chances are you are all too familiar with this feeling. But how much do you know about your cold sores? Why do some people get them, and can they be treated once they pop up? Today, we’re laying out some cold hard cold sore facts to help set the record straight.
1. Cold sores are contagious.
You may have heard someone refer to a cold sore as herpes, and that is precisely what a cold sore is. There are multiple strains of herpes, however, and the one causing your cold sores is known as herpes simplex-1 (HSV-1). This virus is contagious through contact, so it’s important to avoid direct skin to skin contact, such as kissing, when you have an active cold sore. While these pesky blemishes are most contagious when blistering, they can still be spread at any time they are present.
2. You may carry HSV-1 and never have a cold sore.
Simply carrying the HSV-1 virus does not mean you will experience cold sores and having one outbreak does not necessarily mean you will experience another. The virus presents differently in everyone, and some people who are infected will never have a cold sore in their lives.
3. Cold sores can be treated by prescription and over-the-counter medication.
There is no way to rid yourself of the virus once you have it, but various medications can help alleviate symptoms. These antiviral creams will help lessen the blistering, alleviate pain, and assist the sores in healing more quickly. To be most effective, these creams should be applied as soon as you notice a cold sore coming on.
4. Poor health can lead to more outbreaks.
Typically, people with HSV-1 notice their outbreaks come on when they are feeling run-down or already ill, because the immune system is already compromised. Many people also find that sun exposure and UV exposure can bring about a breakout, as well as hormonal changes.
5. At home remedies don’t help.
Urban legends abound, but unfortunately there is no science to back up the notion that ice, tea bags, or vinegar can help reduce the intensity of your cold sores. The best way to treat them is with a specially formulated cream and simply to give your body time to heal.
Cold sores can be a nuisance, but they don’t have to take over your life!
If you have questions about how to best treat your cold sores, or simply to schedule a routine appointment, give us a call at Metro Square Dental Associates in Vernon Hills today!