Cold Sore Treatment in Santa Monica, CA
Oral herpes, also known as herpes labialis, is an infection of the mouth which affects more than half of the U.S. population by the time they reach their 20s. Cold sores, or fever blisters, are the physical manifestation of the virus, and are tiny, fluid-filled blisters which form on and around the lips, often grouped in patches. These blisters are spread through close person-to-person contact (such as from kissing). While regarded with less scorn as HSV-2 (genital herpes), these two conditions are closely linked, sharing the same virus and, like genital herpes, cold sores are incurable, making preventive strategies important to help protect yourself against the herpes simplex virus.
If you find you have contracted cold sores, the condition, while incurable, is very treatable and should be addressed with your healthcare provider to ensure a quicker recovery. To schedule a consultation with a qualified healthcare provider in Santa Monica that specializes in cold sores treatment, call (424) 365-1800 or contact Dr. Jeremy Fischer online.
Cold Sore Symptoms
Cold sores may be identifiable depending on the stage they're in. These stages include:
- Tingling and itching: On the first day or so of being infected by the virus, you typically experience tingling and itching, after which painful spots form. Blisters then emerge.
- Blisters: Following initial tingling and itching, small fluid-filled blisters (the marked symptom of cold sores) typically form along the border where the outside edge of the lips meet the skin of the face. They can also occur around the nose and on the cheeks.
- Oozing and crusting: The small blisters may merge and burst, leaving behind open sores that ooze fluid and crust over.
Depending on whether you are experiencing cold sores for the first time or if you are experiencing a recurrent outbreak, additional symptoms may vary. Symptoms can last up to several days and the blisters may take two to four weeks to completely heal. Recurrences typically affect the same area each time, though they are also typically less severe than the first outbreak. First-time outbreaks may present the following cold sore symptoms:
- Painful, eroded gums
- Sore throat
- Muscle aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
Cold Sore Treatment
Cold sores are typically easily identifiable, but your healthcare provider may confirm a diagnosis by taking a sample of the blister for a test in the laboratory.
Cold sores usually go away on their own within four weeks, but cold sore treatment may be recommended to speed up the healing process and may include prescription antiviral medications (either pill form, taken orally, or cream form, applied to the sores several times a day). For severe infections, antiviral medications may be delivered in the form of an injection.
Antiviral medications, depending on when you start them, may or may not be effective for all patients and carry side effects. Alternative therapies may provide you some relief. Strengthening the immune system through lifestyle interventions like diet and physical activity is an important part of an overall health strategy. Taking dietary supplements such as vitamin E, vitamin C and zinc can help reduce inflammation and help strengthen the immune system. Topical treatments like peppermint oil and aloe vera may also help to improve your symptoms. You should only begin these alternative approaches after first speaking with a healthcare provider.
Once infected by the herpes simplex virus, the virus lies dormant in the nerve cells in your skin and may remerge as another cold sore at the same place as the first occurrence (though reoccurrences are typically not as severe as first-time infections), and may be triggered by a number of factors, including:
- Viral infection or fever
- Hormonal changes, including those related to menstruation
- Exposure to sunlight and wind
- Changes in the immune system
Preventing Cold Sores
While cold sores are in general very treatable, they are incurable, making prevention key. To protect yourself against a potential cold sore outbreak, or to prevent spreading cold sores to someone else if you have them, it is important to avoid skin contact when blisters are present (cold sores are most contagious when they are in the oozing and crusting stage, though they are still contagious in any stage). You should avoid sharing any items (such as utensils, towels, lip balm, etc.) with an infected person. Keep your hands clean at all times; if you have cold sores, carefully wash your hands prior touching yourself or others.
Schedule a consultation with a qualified healthcare provider in Santa Monica that specializes in cold sores treatment and receive relief today. Call (424) 365-1800 or contact Dr. Jeremy Fischer online.
Vitality Integrative Medicine
Address4849 Van Nuys Blvd
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Tue: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Wed: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Thu: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Fri: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sat: 8:00 am - 12:00 pm