Dr. Cedric Strong, MD MBA
INTERNAL MEDICINE

Dr. Strong was always inspired by his father, a doctor who also sought to help and serve his community.
After completing his residency at Tufts University in Massachusetts, Dr. Strong worked at hospitals in Florida and New Hampshire before moving to Hawai’i in 2007. (He still wonders how he made it through all those harsh New England winters.)

Dr. Strong experienced the unique pressures of Hawaiian healthcare right away. He traveled between the islands for several years treating patients before putting down roots in Honolulu. Dr. Strong loves his work in Hawaii, and is inspired everyday by the place and people to make a positive difference both in his own life and in the community.

<< URGENT CARE

Cold Sores

The onset of a cold sore usually occurs in children where the inner skin of the mouth gets infected and forms blisters. The spread of this viral infection is due to skin contact.

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Cold Sores

Although the virus (Herpes Simplex Virus) is known to remain dormant for a long time in a person, it appears during times of weak immunity. Methods on how to quickly get rid of a cold sore is detailed later in this article. There are two commonly occurring strains of the virus.

  • HSV-1- which most often causes cold sores
  • HSV-2 – causes genital herpes in adults

Typically, cold sores are cured by themselves within 7- 10 days. How to quickly get rid of a cold sore is to use antiviral creams at the onset of cold sores to aid in reducing the severity and controlling the spread of the condition. About 20% of all people in the US suffer from recurring cold sores.

Triggers of the virus

Illness like the flu, cough or common cold activates the virus to cause cold sores. In addition, other triggers in adults include:

  • Menstruation
  • Mental stress
  • Lack of hygiene
  • Excessive exposure to direct sunlight

Symptoms of cold sores

  • Tingling sensation before blisters develop typically on your lips/ nose
  • The sensation can prolong for a long while- several hours, or a whole day
  • Some weepy blisters may develop
  • They are usually teeming with the virus and take longer to heal
  • Cold sores can be painful and tender
  • They are contagious and easily spread on contact until they are completely healed and scabbed over
  • Even though the scabs go away completely, the virus goes back to being dormant and does not die

The spread of cold sores

It is a very contagious infection and spreads fast, therefore, precautions must be taken. The precautions to be taken by an affected person are as under,

  • Do not allow anybody to come in contact with your cold sore by touch
  • Avoid kissing and cover the mouth with a face mask if possible
  • Avoid coming in contact with babies and persons with weak immune systems (those who are undergoing chemotherapy or are HIV patients)
  • Do not indulge in oral sex until the cold sores have completely gone away

Diagnosis of cold sores

Diagnosis is arrived at based on:

  • Tingling pain
  • Followed by the blisters around the mouth and nose
  • Sometimes a swab test of the blister fluid can confirm the diagnosis of HSV
  • In exceptional cases, the virus can be detected by performing a blood test
  • Testing might be done in people who have a poor immune system

Self-care advice

  •  Avoid touching the cold sores except while applying cream on them
  • Dab the cream on the affected area rather than rub it in
  • Always wash your hands with soap before and after applying cream on the blisters
  • Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher to protect your skin from overexposure to the sun
  • Avoid sharing lipsticks and lip balms with others if you have cold sores
  • You may take paracetamol or ibuprofen to manage/reduce pain
  • Do not share your ointments and medication with others even if they seem to have the same symptoms as yours
  • If you wear contact lenses and suspect they may have become infected, switch to wearing glasses and speak to your optician as soon as you can for advice

Treatment – How to quickly get rid of a cold sore

It is always best to consult your doctor on the appearance of symptoms of cold sores. The doctor or physician will prescribe any one or two lines of the below-mentioned treatments.

Painkilling gels

  • Some gels that help relieve pain may not be suitable for all age groups. For example, the choline salicylate gel alleviates pain control but is not recommended for children under sixteen due to the risk of Reye’s syndrome.
  • Local anesthetic gels like Lidocaine may reduce pain levels.

Antiviral cream

  • Antiviral creams do not kill the virus but control the further multiplying significantly. Aciclovir (Zovirax®) is one such medication that can be bought at pharmacies and does not need a prescription
  • May reduce the severity and duration of the infection
  • Apply this cream 5 times every day and for a period of 5 days

Antiviral tablets

If the infection is more severe or is not responding to treatment with the cream, the antiviral tablets may be prescribed (like aciclovir or valaciclovir). In addition, a prescription of oral pills may also be necessary for persons with poor immune systems or for babies. They act by preventing the condition from becoming worse by preventing the spread of the virus.

Laser treatment

In addition to the treatments listed above, laser treatment is another treatment for cold sores. A treatment called photodynamic therapy involves a narrow band of light and has worked well for some people with the condition. Pharmacies now carry machines that deliver narrowband light for this treatment.

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