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Cold sores are common and contagious viral infections that present themselves around your mouth area. Whether they’ve experienced a cold sore or not, about 90% of adults worldwide test positive for this virus. This means the virus is dormant in their body, and manifest itself at any time.

Cold sores have three stages: itching, blisters, and sores. First, there will be an itching or tingling sensation usually around the lips, for about a day. Then, small blisters will break out–these can last for days, or even weeks. In time the blisters will burst, leaving open sores that ooze fluid, then crust over, and finally disappear. It usually takes 2-4 weeks for this process to complete.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for this virus, but there are ways to manage your symptoms. Over-the-counter ointments such as rubbing alcohol, Abreva, or lip balm may speed up the healing of the sores. Cool compresses or pain-relieving creams may alleviate your discomfort. If your breakout is more severe and these actions don’t work, visit a doctor. He or she may prescribe an antiviral medication.

There are things that may help you reduce risk of cold sores. First, they are often triggered by sunlight, stress or fatigue. If you are going out in the sun for long periods of time, apply a lip balm with SPF or sunblock to the typical area of cold sore breakouts. Drink lots of water, and try to keep your lips moist and cool. To further reduce risk of cold sores, make sure that you are sleeping well. Practice stress management activities, such as exercise or meditation. Cold sores tend to show up in the exact area where they appeared before. Be aware of early break-outs and employ symptom controlling action as soon as possible.

If you have any questions about how to treat your cold sores, you can call Bullitt Dental P.L.L.C. in Shepherdsville, Kentucky at 502-955-6516. Dr. Robert A. Bell and our dental team would be happy to help.