Cold Sore Treatment

By Jomvie

coldsoretreatmentCold sore or “fever blisters” are the colloquial terms used for oral herpes. This infectious disease is caused by either the type 1 (HSV-1) or type 2 (HSV-2) virus.

The virus can be transmitted from one person to another through direct contact with the cold sore and infected body fluids containing the virus. This would include sharing of utensils and shave razors, kissing an infected person, and coming in contact with infected saliva. Cold sores usually start in the mouth and may subsequently spread to other areas of the body.

Oral herpes, or cold sore in the mouth, is the most common form of herpes infection and is characterized by blisters in the mouth and face. The following signs and symptoms also may appear in the development of the disease:

  • Pain may be felt around the mouth and lips
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes and glands in the neck or other parts of the body
  • After the blisters erupt or break open, clear fluid would leak and then would form a crust that would disappear in a span of days to a couple of weeks

One important thing to mention is: once infected with the virus, it cannot be removed from the body. It stays dormant within the cells until it is activated by stress, cold, excessive exposure to the sun, and depression of the immune system.

The treatment regimen for cold sore is to promptly manage the signs and symptoms to prevent complications and reduce the severity of an outbreak.

Can Cold Sores be Treated Quickly?

Cold sore blisters usually heal on their own from a period of days to a couple of weeks. The body uses its immune system to counter the effects of the virus’ attacks. In cases where the pain is so severe or for the purpose of avoiding embarrassment, there are medications and remedies available that would help ease the pain and hasten the recovery period.

Effective Home remedies

Like an unwanted visitor, cold sore will keep on coming back. Knowing and learning about its nature and how to deal with it is important to avoid the severity of the pain and discomfort of its every visit. Here are some simple tips to remember to avoid getting infected or decrease the frequency of attacks or recurrence for previously infected individuals:

  • Avoid contact with an infected person. Remember that the cold sore virus (herpes simplex 1) is transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact and through infected fluids. Also avoid materials or objects that have been used by an infected person. This would include razor shaves, utensils, towels, and toothbrushes.
  • Stay healthy. A healthy immune system has enough capabilities to keep the virus at bay. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle would decrease the severity of cold sore signs and symptoms. Illness and other diseases could compromise the immune system that may trigger another cold sore attack. Rest and sleep is just as important as exercise. Get enough of them to maintain a healthy body.
  • Avoid over-exposure to sunlight. Though sunlight is a good source of vitamin D which is beneficial to our body, over-exposure to ultraviolet rays can irritate the skin and the delicate contours of the lips that can trigger another cold sore outbreak. Remember that the virus is contained within the cells and is just waiting for an opportunity to attack again. If over-exposure to sunlight cannot be avoided, always have a sunscreen or lip balm at hand. Apply them to areas where the cold sores tend to recur.
  • Avoid stress. Stress could lead to depression of the immune system; which ultimate purpose is to fight against harmful microorganisms. This later would open the door for another attack. Relaxation techniques relieve stress. Learn to make relaxation techniques part of everyday activities to keep cold sore and other diseases at bay.
  • Avoid foods that contain acids. Citrus fruits and tomatoes could irritate the lesions and could increase the severity of the pain.
  • The power of baking soda. A mouth rinse containing baking soda provides a soothing relief of the pain.
  • Hot compress. Using a clean towel soaked with hot water, apply it over the sores in an interval of 20 minutes. This will help reduce the inflammatory effects of the blister. Just make sure the soaked towel isn’t too hot to cause burns.
  • Learn about the medications. Cold sore is caused and triggered by a virus. And there are anti-viral medications available to suppress the severity of the attacks. Pain medication is also useful in cold sore management. Nevertheless, it is still important to consult the doctor and ask for a prescription before using these drugs.
  • Prevention is better than cure. Always practice the “Universal principle of infection control” –Hand washing. Clean objects like toys, combs, brushes, and school materials, thoroughly to avoid the spread of the virus. Use gloves when applying ointment medication to an infected person’s sore.

Over the counter Cold Sore Remedies

There are over-the-counter remedies that are available for the purpose of alleviating the pain, providing relief and comfort from the symptoms. Here are some non prescription medications that may be used in the management of cold sores:

  • Anti-viral – acyclovir, valacyclovir, famciclovir, and penciclovir are some of the drugs that are used in the treatment of cold sores. These drugs speed up the healing process and also may prevent blisters from occurring if applied early enough. Common brands are Abreva and Zilactin.
  • Topical anesthetics – prilocaine, benzocaine, lidocaine, can be used to provide relief of itching and pain. Common brands are Orajel and Albesol. These medications can numb the sore areas.
  • Oral medications – Drugs like ibrupofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) are used to reduce the pain.

Cold sore (fever blister, herpes simplex 1 infection) is a highly contagious disease because of its viral agent. This may cause severe pain, discomfort, social stigma, and more severe complications such as large nervous tissue and brain involvement. But learning about the disease process would be an opportunity to efficiently manage and alleviate the suffering it may bring; as well as prevent the spread and avoid getting infected.

If you need more information about cold sore and its management, feel free to contact us.

Last Updated: October 9, 2013


This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. The information here is not advice, and should not be treated as such. This website is not to be used as an alternative to a doctor or other healthcare professional. You should never delay in seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment based on this information.