Cold Sore Causes
Herpes simplex is caused by a contagious oral virus. The virus is spread from person to person by kissing or other close contact with sores or even from contact with apparently normal skin that is shedding the virus. Infected saliva is also a means of spreading the virus. The most contagious period is when a person has active blister-like sores. Once the blisters have dried and crusted over (within a few days), the risk of contagion is significantly lessened.
However, a person infected with HSV can pass it on to another person even when a cold sore is not present.
This is because the virus is sometimes shed in saliva even when sores are not present.
It is almost impossible to catch herpes from contaminated surfaces, towels.
Cold Sore Symptoms and Signs
Certain symptoms occur before the actual sores appear. The prodrome to herpes infections typically involves a burning or tingling sensation that precedes the appearance of blisters by a few hours or a day or two
•There are several medications to reduce the duration or symptoms of cold sores. Some are available without a prescription , and others require a prescription from a doctor.
Some are they are creams or ointments rubbed directly on the sore, and others are taken in pill form.
•Over-the-counter topical medications: Most topical OTC products provide symptomatic relief only. This means that they make people feel better but they do not decrease healing time. Using topical anesthetics that contain benzocaine (5%-20%), lidocaine (0.5%-4%), tetracaine (2%) or dibucaine (0.25%-1%) will help relieve burning, itching, and pain. Examples are Lipactin gel and Zilactin.
Skin protectants, such as allantoin, petrolatum, and dimethicone-containing products, help keep the lesion moist and prevent cracking of the lesion.
For additional pain relief, using ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be beneficial.
Docosanol 10% cream (Abreva) is the only over-the-counter product has been shown to decrease healing time when applied at the first sign of recurrence . Docosanol is applied five times per day until the lesion is healed.
• The medications used in the treatment of herpes simplex virus in adults are acyclovir (Zovirax), valacyclovir (Valtrex), and Famciclovir (Famvir). These oral medications have been shown to decrease the duration of the outbreak, especially when started during the "prodrome" symptom onset before the actual condition becomes fully evident.
The medications are generally well tolerated with few side effects . For simple, recurrent cold sores in adults, valacyclovir is given as 2 grams orally every 12 hours for one day, and famciclovir is given as 1,500 milligrams orally for one dose. Acyclovir is given as 400 mg orally five times per day for five days.