Treat the Tingle
Cold sores affect many people. The 'tingle' sensation can be the first sign of an outbreak which is unsightly and painful.
'Cold sores may look harmless, but they can spread easily or become infected if not cared for properly', advise Self Care pharmacists.
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex type 1 virus (type 2 causes genital herpes). About 80% of all New Zealanders carry this virus although only about 20% will have outbreaks of cold sores. We catch this virus when we are children from other people when they kiss us. The virus enters through our mouth or through breaks in our skin. Once the virus enters our skin, it stays inside our bodies until a 'trigger' causes it to come to the skin surface and develop into a cold sore.
'Triggers can include, stress, illness (such as colds or flu), UV light, some medicines and some women may get cold sores around the time of their period', say Self Care pharmacists.
Cold sores only tend to appear around the mouth or nose. If cold sore type lesions appear anywhere else on the body - see your doctor immediately.
After the initial tingle, a red patch will develop where the cold sore may develop. This red patch will slowly turn into blisters, which will eventually dry and form a yellow-brown crust. This will fall off and heal without scarring. The whole outbreak may last for 10 - 14 days.
Because the cold sore virus is so contagious it must be cared for carefully. 'Never touch your eyes after touching or treating the cold sore. Always wash your hands after treating the cold sore and before applying eye make-up to prevent spreading the virus into your eyes', advise all Self Care pharmacists. If you develop red eyes when you have a cold sore - immediately see your doctor.
'How you treat a cold sore, depends on its stage of development', advise all Self Care pharmacists. If treatment is started during the tingle phase, then the cold sore may not develop or it may heal a little quicker than usual. Treatment at the later stages help to prevent any infections developing in the cold sore while it heals and to help relieve the pain at the site of the cold sore.
'Prevention is as important as the treatment', say all Self Care pharmacists. Ways to prevent spreading the cold sore virus and prevent outbreaks include:
- Not sharing towels and utensils (whether you have a cold sore or not)
- Use sunscreens to prevent the virus being triggered by UV sunlight
- Maintain a well balanced diet, rest and exercise to maintain a healthy body
If you have some questions or need treatments for cold sores please contact us
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