It’s estimated that around 48% of americans get cold sores. This is a huge proportion of the population, especially when you consider that most people don’t really fully understand exactly what they are.
Cold sores, also known as oral herpes, canker sores or fever blisters, are small, blister like sores that crop up around the mouth and lips. Some people even get them on their nose and around the chin area. Cold sores are highly contagious. If you have one and you kiss a loved one, share a drink with someone, or even just touch them after you’ve touched the affected area, it’s extremely easy to unknowingly pass on the virus that causes them.
Cold sores are recurring. So, once you’ve caught the virus which causes the condition and had your first cold sore, you will continue to experience them throughout your life. Thankfully though, the frequency and severity of breakouts lessens significantly over time.
There is no current cure for genital herpes, but treatment methods have improved somewhat over recent years. For patients who suffer from these painful and embarrassing sores on their face, managing the symptoms as best they can is their only option.
In order to do that successfully, understanding exactly what a cold sore is and how it works is important.
The virus that causes cold sores is known as the herpes simplex virus. There are several different strains of this virus and two of them can cause cold sore outbreaks. However, one in particular is the most common cause. This strain is known as herpes simplex virus type 1, or HSV-1.
The other is known as HSV-2 or genital herpes and is mainly associated with herpes in the genital areas. However, it can be spread to the mouth by oral sex and other skin to skin contact. For the most part though, HSV-1 is responsible for cold sores.
Herpes simplex attaches itself to cells in the body. This is why it is so difficult to cure. Right now, scientists haven’t figured out a way to kill the herpes infection without also killing the cells.
Cold sores are pretty unmistakable. They follow a very set pattern which make them really easy to identify and also, gives the patient an indication of when they are about to get one. This is because of the phase structure that they go through.
Phase 1: This phase begins a day or two before the first sign of a cold sore appears. The patient will feel tingling and itchy in the spot where the sore will appear.
Phase 2: A small, fluid filled blister appears.
Phase 3: The blister will now burst and ooze liquid. This is the most painful phase of the cycle.
Phase 4: Finally, the sore forms a crusty scab and dries out until eventually disappearing.
At all stages of this cycle the virus is contagious. Person to person contact really should be limited from the moment the patient feels that first tingly sensation until the sore has healed fully. Thankfully, there are some treatments that can help speed this process up.
Strengthen The Immune System
Herpes simplex affects people much more regularly if they have a weakened immune system. It also affects them more severely in these cases. So, maintaining a healthy and strong immune system is a great defence against cold sore outbreaks.
You can strengthen your immune system through dietary supplements, or by eating a balanced diet that contains a lot of leafy green vegetables like broccoli and spinach.
There are lots of tropical treatments available on the market today which solely focus on cold sore treatment. These over the counter treatments include everything from sprays and lotions to lip balms and patches.
The actual efficacy of these products varies quite a bit, so it’s important to ask around before buying one. Finding out what works best for friends and family will help you to find the right product for you.
Many people turn to prescription medications to treat their cold sores. These are usually in the form of antiviral medications. This treatment can really reduce the pain, itching and discomfort of the sore and can even speed up the healing process by a few days.
CBD Topical Creams and Oil
With the rise of CBD, its no wonder people are turning to it as a form of treatment for cold sores, however, with clinical studies not having enough information and results, nobody is sure on whether it truly works or not. However, CBD is still showing promising results as a cold sore treatment as it holds antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties which in turn may be able to reduce redness and prevent further spreading.
For most people, the virus fades significantly over time. And with so many people infected with HSV-1 today in the United States, it really isn’t the end of the world.
Until a cure for cold sores is found, managing the symptoms of the condition gives the patient their best chance at stopping it from impacting their day to day life. This can be done to some extent, but the truth is that prevention really is better than the cure. Practising safe sex and being careful not to share drinks with people you don’t know very well can go a long way towards preventing cold sores.