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Cold sores are an extremely common condition that affects our lips and mouth.
In fact, more than 50 per cent of us carry the virus responsible, and 25 per cent of us suffer from recurring cold sores.
Cold sores are recognised by the small blisters they cause on lips and are often confused with canker sores, which present similar symptoms. Here’s an illustration of the difference between the two.
If you suffer from cold sores and you’re wondering if they will affect a scheduled dental appointment, we recommend you give us a call.
In most cases we recommend you let your cold sore heal before an appointment, to decrease the chance it will spread on you or to others.
Don’t worry most cold sores take less than ten days to go away! At Smiles First Dental we’re happy to reschedule your appointment!
Cold sore symptoms
The following list details some of the most common cold sore symptoms:
- A tingling or burning feeling around the lips in the days before the blister erupts
- A small fluid-filled blister on the outside edge of the lips
- A sore that oozes fluid before forming a crust or scab
In most cases, a cold sore outbreak takes 1 to 2 weeks to heal completely and is contagious during the outbreak.
Patients suffering their first cold sore outbreak may also experience the following cold sore symptoms:
- Muscle ache
- Sore throat
If your cold sore does not clear up within two weeks or if you suffer from severe symptoms, you should make an appointment to see your doctor who will be able to recommend a cold sore treatment.
Stopping cold sores early
Keep antiviral medications on hand. People who frequently suffer from cold sores may want to keep the appropriate medications on hand so that they can be used at the first point that tingling or burning are felt.
The medicines that are demonstrated to work on cold sores are antivirals, and they work by stopping a virus from replicating. This, in its turn, can prevent cold sores from developing or may reduce their size and healing time.
Antiviral medications are available by prescription.
Cold sore antivirals come in two different forms:
- Creams (topical medicine) that is applied directly onto the affected area
- Pills (oral medications) that are taken orally
Antivirals are safe for use by most people. However, there are exceptions, which is why potential benefits and risks should be discussed with your doctor.
Antivirals work best when used as early as possible, even before a cold sore can be seen.
It is wise to have a prescription filled out and ready, instead of waiting for a cold sore to break out before visiting a doctor for a prescription. With a prescription on hand, medication can be used as soon as the tingling or other symptoms begin.
Treating cold sores
There are many approaches you can take at home to soothe the pain of a cold sore, including:
Apply cool compresses. Cool compresses or ice can be applied for a period of 5 to 10 minutes a few times a day. Don’t put ice directly on your skin, however, as this can lead to frostbite.
Don’t touch! Touching a cold sore not only dries it out but can set you up for a bacterial infection, since anything on your hands can make its way into the broken skin.
Pain relievers. When a cold sore really hurts, you may seek relief from an over-the-counter painkiller. Be mindful of any restrictions or warnings on their labels.
Over-the-counter creams. There are multiple products at the drugstore that can reduce the pain of a cold sore or soften your skin while it heals.
Ingredients such as benzocaine, lidocaine, and camphorated phenol are among the ones to look for. If you have any questions as to what is available and right for you, talk to your pharmacist.
Avoid spreading cold sores!
Close contact spreads herpes simplex. You can get herpes simplex by kissing, sharing lip balm, a fork, a mug, or a razor with someone who has it. The virus can be passed along while apparently dormant.
You can also give cold sores back to yourself by using implements contaminated by the virus. If you have any balm, lipstick, toothbrush, or other lip products that might be contaminated, toss them out immediately. Also, wash any pillowcases you used during an outbreak as they can host the virus.
Dental Care at Smiles First Dental
Smiles First Dental is your trusted dentist in Northmead in Greater Western Sydney. Your oral health and the appearance of your smile are important to us.
Our highly trained staff treats all dental issues, including complicated problems related to other health conditions.
Our commitment to our patients is maximised dental health and a stunning smile.
We make life a little bit easier for our patients by offering late hours on weekdays and weekend appointments.
Gap-free check up and clean
We offer all patients gap-free check ups, cleans and all preventative treatments if you are in a private health fund ($180 for patients not in a private health fund).
Call (02) 9630 9996 or visit us at 19/5-7 Kleins Rd in Northmead.