Herpes is never a diagnosis that one wants to hear, however oral herpes is often misunderstood and can be falsely thought of as a sexually transmitted disease. Cold sores are caused by herpes simplex 1, which can occur in anyone, young or old. The signs of infection are sores on the skin around the lips and it can be spread by common activities such as sharing beverages or utensils and kissing. Oral herpes is extremely common; however some people will never actually develop the characteristic sores. The virus can be spread even when a person doesn’t have an active lesion.
Cold sores can be painful, unattractive, and embarrassing. The blister-like sores that appear around the mouth and lips may pop up singularly or in a group. Most are small, clear, and filled with fluid, though they may also be red. Often you don’t see an intact blister, and instead you see what’s left when it ruptures, a sore. Before the blister appears, the sufferer may feel a burning or tingling sensation near the mouth for a few days prior.
A doctor should be seen if the cold sore lasts longer than two weeks or symptoms are severe. Individuals also should be examined if they experience cold sores frequently or irritation occurs in the eyes. Small children under 5 can have them inside their mouth. Since they frequently put their hands in their mouths, it is likely the virus could spread to their fingers, eyes, or other locations of the body.
Cold Sore Treatment
There is no cure or vaccine for the herpes simplex virus. Patients who experience symptoms may be prescribed topical treatments and/or anti-viral medication that can be taken orally. Outbreaks are best treated as early as possible to shorten the healing time. Without treatment they generally clear up within two weeks. Treatment can reduce the number or size of sores that develop if taken soon enough. In some cases, it may even be able to prevent blisters from occurring at all.
For more information on the medication that may be right for you, contact Aesthetic Specialty Centre Plastic Surgery & Dermatology in Roswell at (770) 393-9000 or Greensboro at (706) 467-6500. ADSC is located near Atlanta, Georgia.
*The information about Cold Sores was reviewed by Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Dr. Marc E. Yune. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us using our contact form below.