Cold sores, fever blisters, oral herpes. No matter what you call them, they are irritating, painful, and extremely embarrassing. Unfortunately, when you are infected with the virus, it is there forever, but at Todd Rogers Dental, we can help you to take steps to treat your outbreaks, reduce the number you experience, and prevent the spread of the virus to others.
What are Cold Sores?
Cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). It is often believed to be a virus that affects only adults. The truth is, however, that most people that are infected become infected during their infancy. HSV-1 is highly contagious and is spread through such actions as kissing or sharing utensils between an individual with an active infection and one without the virus.
The first infection (primary herpes) often causes flu-like symptoms, which usually last about seven days. The first infection may or may not cause a cold sore to form. The virus is then permanently within the body. After the primary infection clears, the virus goes dormant in the trigeminal nerve (which supplies the lips and teeth). The virus can then flare up from time to time, causing cold sores (fluid filled blisters) to form on the lips and gums. They may also sometimes form just under the nose or near the chin.
What Causes Outbreaks?
HSV-1 outbreaks can be triggered by a variety of different factors. Typically, the virus flares up when your immune system is dealing with something else. Those with compromised immune systems often have worse outbreaks than those who have healthy immune systems. Common triggers for cold sores include:
How are Cold Sores Treated?
There is no cure for HSV-1, but there are ways to help heal cold sores faster and prevent future outbreaks. Typically, cold sores heal on their own within a week to 10 days. There are many medications available over the counter than can help to alleviate the pain caused by cold sores, but they cannot speed up your healing time. There are also some prescriptions available that can help to reduce your outbreaks. At Todd Rogers, we offer Viroxyn, a one-time treatment that can not only stop cold sores from forming but can also shorten your healing time.
Living with Cold Sores
If you have HSV-1, there are steps you can take to prevent spreading the infection to others, including limiting direct contact with others while you have an active outbreak. Likewise, if you do not have the virus, you can avoid catching the virus by avoiding direct contact with those who have an active infection. Avoid sharing personal items at all costs. If you have a dental appointment coming up, and you have an active infection, it is important that you call the office as we may need to reschedule.
Living with cold sores can be a real pain, but it is not the end of the world. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call Todd Rogers Dental today at (719) 357-4425.