What Not To Do
When you have a cold sore, its very tempting to touch it or pick at it. Try to resist the temptation to do these things, which may inhibit the healing process:
- Touch an open sore. Anytime you touch the open blister and dont wash your hands immediately afterward, you risk spreading the virus from your hands to someone else. Also, you could introduce bacteria from your hands into the sore if you poke or prod at it.
- Attempt to pop the sore. A cold sore isnt a pimple. If you squeeze it or try to pop it, it wont make it smaller. You may just squeeze viral fluid out and onto your skin. You may unintentionally spread the virus to someone else.
- Pick at the scab. You may find yourself picking at the scab without even realizing youre doing it. But try to keep your hands off it as much as you can. The scab will last a few days and then disappear on its own. If you pick at it, it might leave a scar.
- Aggressively wash. It would be great if you could just wash a cold sore away, but unfortunately, a vigorous scrubbing will just irritate your already fragile skin.
- Have oral sex. If you still have a blister, its best to avoid intimate contact with your partner that involves your mouth. Wait until it clears up before you resume sexual activity.
- Eat acidic food. Food thats high in acid, like citrus fruit and tomatoes, can cause a burning sensation when they come into contact with a cold sore. You might want to avoid them and opt for blander fare for a few days.
How To Treat Herpes
This article was medically reviewed by Luba Lee, FNP-BC, MS. Luba Lee, FNP-BC is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner and educator in Tennessee with over a decade of clinical experience. Luba has certifications in Pediatric Advanced Life Support , Emergency Medicine, Advanced Cardiac Life Support , Team Building, and Critical Care Nursing. She received her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Tennessee in 2006.There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, several readers have written to tell us that this article was helpful to them, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 1,634,244 times.
Herpes is an outbreak of painful, itchy blisters caused by a viral infection. While there is no cure for herpes, antiviral medications can relieve symptoms and shorten an outbreak’s duration. There are also steps you can take on your own to ease your discomfort. To reduce the risk of subsequent outbreaks, maintain a healthy diet, get 7 to 9 hours of sleep nightly, and try to keep your stress levels in check.
How To Find Out If You Have Oral Herpes
If you see a cold sore on your mouth, it doesnt necessarily mean that you have herpes. However, it may indicate it. Outbreaks are often triggered by sickness, stress, or environmental factors. If you notice that you always get a cold sore when youre sick, or when you are stressed out, you can count on getting a lip sore, then there is a very good chance that you have HSV-1. Also, if you notice that you get multiple sores rather than one at a time, this is a pretty definitive indicator that you are carrying the virus.
The best way to find out if you have herpes or not is to see your doctor. Usually, a doctor can take a look at the area in question and determine whether or not you have herpes. Its a topical virus, and doctors are trained to recognize it. For those who suspect they have the virus but havent had an outbreak, a blood test may be done. This usually happens when someone is made aware that they came into contact with the virus unknowingly.
Lip Herpes Treatment
Sometimes, an outbreak of lip herpes may be minor and you wont need to do anything out of the ordinary. However, depending on how your body reacts to the virus, you may have severe symptoms that require you to seek treatment.
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How Is Herpes In Your Mouth Contracted
Oral herpes can be easily transmitted from one person to another by contact, such as kissing and shared utensils or toothbrushes. Children often contract the virus because of their curiosity and their affinity for exploring objects with their mouths.
Once a person contracts HSV-1, it can lie dormant for months or years. Factors such as stress, excess exposure to sunlight, and trauma to the lips and oral cavity may cause a breakout of sores on the lips and mouth. Female patients may also experience an outbreak in the mouth due to the hormonal changes initiated by menstruation.
When To See A Doctor
Most of the time, cold sores go away on their own within a couple of weeks. If your cold sore lingers beyond 2 weeks, it might be time to check with your healthcare professional.
If you feel like youre constantly dealing with cold sores several times a year or more thats another good reason to check with your doctor. You may benefit from a prescription-strength antiviral medication.
Other reasons to see your doctor:
- sores near your eyes
- sores that have spread to other parts of your body
If you have eczema, which is also called atopic dermatitis, you may have some cracked or bleeding areas on your skin. If HSV-1 spreads into those openings, it can cause complications, according to the National Eczema Association.
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How Is Genital Herpes Spread
If you do not have herpes, you can get infected if you come into contact with the herpes virus in:
- Saliva or genital secretions
- Skin in the oral area if your partner has an oral herpes infection, or skin in the genital area if your partner has a genital herpes infection.
You can get herpes from a sex partner who does not have a visible sore or who may not know he or she is infected. It is also possible to get genital herpes if you receive oral sex from a sex partner who has oral herpes.
You will not get herpes from toilet seats, bedding, or swimming pools, or from touching objects around you such as silverware, soap, or towels. If you have additional questions about how herpes is spread, consider discussing your concerns with a healthcare provider.
When To See A Heathcare Provider For Cold Sores
In otherwise healthy adults, cold sores usually clear up on their own within two weeks. Mind you, they can make you miserable during the healing process, physically and emotionally, and they pose the risk of infecting someone else.
But if you’re someone with a weakened immune system, or you struggle with frequent or severe outbreaks, you should see your healthcare provider about taking antiviral medicines such as acyclovir, famciclovir, or valacyclovir.
People with atopic dermatitis are particularly at risk of bad cold sore outbreaks. “It can spread over the surface of your skin like wildfire because you don’t have the normal barrier function in your skin,” said Dr. Brodell.
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When To See Your Gp
See your GP if:
- the cold sore has not started to heal within 10 days
- you have an infection near the eye
- youre worried about a cold sore or think it might be something else
- the cold sore is very large or painful
- you have swollen, painful gums and sores in the mouth
- you have a weakened immune system for example, because of chemotherapy or diabetes.
If the cold sores are very large, painful or keep coming back, your GP may give you an antiviral treatment like valaciclovir.
Dentures And Mouth & Throat Yeast Infections
Do you wear dentures? Chances are that you will probably experience a painful mouth ulcer as a result. An underlying yeast infection is common in those who get recurring mouth ulcers. Denture wearers often have poor digestive health because Ive noticed that many dont chew foods properly or make the right kinds of dietary choices.
Possible swelling and redness, especially of the upper palate , is something that many denture wearers experience. Having a yeast infection of the mouth, tongue or throat can be especially uncomfortable for those who do wear dentures, so be sure to have them checked out from time to time by your dentist or orthodontist to ensure they are fitting perfectly. Ensure good dental hygiene, especially if you are a denture wearer, use Tea Tree oil based toothpaste, and treat any underlying digestive yeast infections. Follow my Candida Crusher Program for optimal results.
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How Can I Stop Cold Sores From Forming
So you nipped your last cold sore flare-up in the bud , and it lasted less than a week but here you are, just a few months later, and the cold sores are back. Theres good news, and then theres bad news. Lets start with the bad news.
Once a person is infected with herpes simplex virus, he or she is infected for life, says Dr. Brown. After a cold sore heals, the virus isnt actually cleared from your body. Instead, the virus travels back into your nerves, where it can lie dormant for long periods of time. When the virus reemerges, it typically does so in the same spot as before.
So what triggers the virus to reactivate and cause a flare-up?
Dr. Brown says that a cold sore outbreak can be triggered by:
When Should You See Your Doctor
If herpes on the tongue has been there for more than ten days and does not seem to go away despite desperate measures, then you should see your doctor.
The more you need to see your doctor if the pain on the tongue is extreme that it interferes with your day to day living. The more you need to see your doctor if you are feeling drowsy, irritable, have dry mouth, and decreased urination.
Herpes on the tongue usually goes away on its own in a few days even without treatment. However, it can be extremely painful that those who have it cant wait for more than a week to let the blister heal on its own. If you have a low pain threshold or herpes on your tongue takes so much time to heal, the best thing to do is to consult your doctor.
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Herpes Symptoms And Signs
In order to diagnose herpes, a health care provider can swab an area of visibly active herpes infection or, if symptoms arent active, a blood test can be given that measures the number of herpes antibodies present in the body. The antibodies dont indicate herpes itself, but rather show the immune systems response to the presence of the virus in the body. Its important to note that sometimes a swab can give false negative results since herpes lesions need to be large enough to yield enough detectable virus and if the outbreak is already healing it also may not be detected in a swab.
The most common herpes symptoms include:
- Developing either a single cold sore or cluster of multiple cold sores that form on the lips, inside the mouth, or on the genitals, buttocks and upper thighs.
- Sores can sometimes be severe, painful and rupture and cause fluid to be secreted out.
- Some herpes canker sores develop a thin, white coating and burn when touched while they healing.
- Around herpes cold sores, its common to feel pain, tenderness and other symptoms of a rash, such as redness or signs of swelling.
- Some people are able to tell before an outbreak if one is going to occur because they feel tingling, itchy sensations near the affected area.
- Some people develop other symptoms during herpes outbreaks that are similar to those caused by a cold or the flu. This may include fatigue, irritability, aches or a slight fever.
How To Prevent Cold Sores
img source: thehealthy.com
Prevention of cold sores largely depends on how an individual cares for themselves by observing and also keeping measures to the required levels. These include self-care and cautionary steps such as
- Avoiding kissing with individuals diagnosed with herpes simplex on lips
- Keeping the sores clean with plain cool water
- If it is discovered that sunlight triggers recurrence you better stay away from sun when outdoors
- Avoid making skin contacts especially with one who has had HSV reactivated
- It will also be of help if you stopped sharing towels, lipstick and other lip cosmetic products
Sometimes antiviral medicines , when taken as per your doctors descriptions, will help avoid the recurrence of a cold sore on the lip in the future.
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How Herpes Is Treated
There is no cure for herpes.
- The health care provider may prescribe antiviral medicine to help speed up the healing process. It also shortens the time when the virus can spread from the herpes sores.
- Pain may be treated with medicine such as Tylenol or Motrin or by applying an ice pack wrapped in a towel to the affected area.
- If sores are in the mouth, avoid foods high in acid, like citrus fruits and juices.
- The infected area should be kept clean and dry.
- Wash hands often and avoid touching the sores to prevent spreading the virus.
- It is important to stay healthy by getting enough rest, having proper nutrition and exercise and managing stress well.
Home Remedies And Lifestyle
When used early, several remedies can help relieve pain and reduce swelling and even trim the period of cold sores.
Consider the following:
Apply cold compresses
Put a well-protected ice pack on the affected areas until you feel better. Cold wont make an injury worse or better, but it can reduce pain.
Do not scratch
Avoid irritating and touching herpetic lesions. It can spread the disease to other areas of the skin.
Keep wounds clean
You can contract herpes infections from the bacteria on your hands or, in the latter case, in your feces or urine. Thus, keep sores and blisters and the places around them neat and dry to evade further infection.
Stress can impair your immune systems ability to control a herpes infection. Thus, relieving stress may aid in preventing excessive recurrences of herpes.
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Some Natural Remedies Can Help You Control Tooth Pain And Help Stop Tooth Infections From Getting Worse
The only way to truly get rid of an infection is with antibiotics. However, home remedies for tooth infection can help manage the symptoms and alleviate some of the pain. If you have a tooth infection you need to see a dentist to assess whether or not you need a root canal and to get prescription antibiotics to make sure that the infection goes away and doesnt cause any more pain or damage to your teeth.
There are some natural remedies that you can use to both help control the pain and help stop the infection from getting worse or spreading while you wait for the infection to die off. Not all of these remedies will work for every person but if youre in pain from an infected tooth they can bring you some relief.
Do’s And Don’ts For Faster Cold Sore Healing
Speeding up the cold sore healing process through medication like valacyclovir is only one side of the equation. The other, which is equally important, is making sure you dont slow accidentally down the healing process by making common cold sore mistakes:
Dont try to pop a cold sore as if it were a pimple. This just damages your skin and gives the virus fluid a chance to spread throughout your lips and mouth, increasing the risk of other cold sores developing.
The best approach is to leave your cold sore alone and let it heal, or use a cold sore patch from your local pharmacy to cover it up without breaking it open.
Dont touch a cold sore . The fluid from cold sores may spread to other parts of your body, making it possible to spread cold sores to your genitals or fingers through contact.
Dont have oral sex if you have a cold sore. Having oral sex with an open cold sore significantly increases your risk of transmitting genital herpes to your partner, making it best to avoid oral sex until the cold sore is healed.
Dont aggressively wash the cold sore with soap or facial wash. Oral herpes isnt caused by dirty skin or lips, meaning most soaps wont be effective.
Dont use more than the recommended dose of valacyclovir. A higher dose doesnt necessarily mean faster healing. Follow the dosage provided by your doctor for reliable, safe cold sore recovery.
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What Are The Risk Factors For Herpes Simplex Infections
The virus can also be shed from saliva when there are no visible lesions. This is called “asymptomatic shedding.” Therefore, a person can be contagious without having a cold sore outbreak.
- Direct contact with the virus, from kissing or sharing personal items, or skin-to-skin contact, will increase the chance of getting infected with HSV.
- Abnormal areas of skin such as eczema may be especially prone to herpes infection.
- Health care workers, such as dentists, dental hygienists, and respiratory therapists, are at risk of developing herpetic whitlow because of contact with people’s mouths.
- Medical conditions or treatments that weaken a person’s immune system can increase the risk of severe complications from the virus. These include:
Oral herpes is contagious to others who do not have it.