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Herpes: Treating Cold Sores and Other Symptoms

Cold sores. We’ve all been subject to them at least once in our life and can describe in detail how uncomfortable they felt and looked. Working with a dermatologist at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute will enable you to find the best possible treatment to get rid of your cold sores as fast as possible.


Types of Herpes

Cold sores are a type of herpes, which can mean many things and refer to a variety of several contagious viral infections. Most common types are known as herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-2).

HSV-1 is often what causes fever blisters and cold sores on the face and lips. Fluid filled blisters that can be very tender, tingling, and painful. The blisters begin healing by drying up and crusting, soon turning into pink healed skin as the crusting dissipates. HSV-2 primarily occurs on the genitals. These two strains of herpes are related to what causes the epstein-barr virus (EBV). Another common strain of herpes is the varicella zoster virus, which causes both varicella (chicken pox) and zoster (shingles). There are certain herpes symptoms to look for if you are concerned.


Herpes Symptoms

The herpes virus can surface quickly with or without symptoms. Once contracted, the virus never goes away. It merely retreats into a resting phase in the skin cells and nerve endings. A herpes outbreak can recur quite suddenly.

Common warning signs and symptoms are tingling and/or tenderness. Sometimes symptoms may not get any worse than that. If an outbreak is going to occur, you will notice puffy, red, and sore skin. Within a day, blisters, sores, or bumps appear and last for several days. There is often a burning soreness or tingling, sometimes accompanied by swollen glands and feverish flu-like symptoms.


Can Herpes Spread?

Herpes is spread through direct contact. The virus is broken down into two categories: primary and recurrent.

If a primary infection develops into an initial outbreak, it will occur within two to twenty days after exposure to an infected person. Symptoms can be as mild as tingling and as severe as a large, painful sore. Blisters and sores from the first infection take seven to ten days to heal with the most acute phase occurring in days two through five. Once the sores heal, the virus lies dormant in the nerve cells.

Though it may not recur, it often will. If it does recur, the outbreak is frequently not as intense as the primary outbreak and will likely appear in the same location as the primary infection. Stress, fatigue, colds, weakened immune system, and sun exposure can trigger a recurrent outbreak.


Herpes Treatment and Prevention

Herpes treatment is often accomplished through an oral antiviral medication. Common prescriptions include Valtrex and Famvir. Both medicines treat primary and recurrent infections and can also be used in maintenance doses to prevent recurrence. When herpes appears on the lips or face, avoid kissing, sharing eating utensils or drinks, and any kind of lip product.

If you are in or around the Bloomington, Illinois area and are experiencing your first or fifth cold sore, complete this form to have it diagnosed and receive a prescription treatment from the dermatologists at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute.

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