How Do You Get Rid Of A Cold Sore
While there is no cure, and they usually go away on their own within a few weeks, cold sore treatment is available which can help shorten the length of time you need to deal with the cold sore. Here are a few ways you may be able to get rid of a cold sore faster:
- Creams and ointments like penciclovir and docosanol are applied several times a day and can control pain and promote healing.
- Oral antiviral medications like famciclovir , valacyclovir , and acyclovir are available by prescription only and can be useful in helping to treat and prevent frequent cold sore outbreaks.
- Home remedies may provide some relief. Options include ice, lip balm with lemon extract, aloe vera gel, witch hazel, petroleum jelly, and lysine supplements.
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.
If You Have Genital Herpes Already Can It Be Spread To Other Parts Of The Body Such As The Arms Or Legs
No. Genital herpes cannot be transmitted to another part of your body such as your arm, leg or hand after the first infection occurs. If you have genital HSV II, you will not get HSV II at another site in your body. The immune system produces antibodies that protect other parts of your body from infection. However, there are cases where a person has multiple site infections from the same virus. This is usually acquired at the time of the first infection. For example, if someone has never had herpes but then has oral and genital sex with an infected partner, they can acquire the infection at both sites.
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What Are Cold Sores
Cold sores are small, painful, fluid-filled blisters or sores that appear on the lips, mouth, or nose that are caused by a virus. The sores can be painful and usually last a few days. Unlike most viral infections, the cold sore virus is not completely eliminated by the body defenses. For this reason, cold sores often recur.
Risk For Genital Herpes
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , about 1 in 6 Americans ages 14 to 49 years have genital herpes. While HSV-2 remains the main cause of genital herpes, HSV-1 has significantly increased as a cause, most likely because of oral-genital sex. Except for people in monogamous relationships with uninfected partners, everyone who is sexually active is at risk for genital herpes.
Risk factors for genital herpes include:
- History of an STD
- First sexual intercourse at an early age
- High number of sexual partners
- Low socioeconomic status
Women are more susceptible to HSV-2 infection because herpes is more easily transmitted from men to women than from women to men. About 1 in 5 women, compared to 1 in 9 men, have genital herpes. African-American women are at particularly high risk.
People with compromised immune systems, such as those who have HIV, are at very high risk for genital herpes. These people are also at risk for more severe complications from herpes. Drugs that suppress the immune system, and organ transplantation, can also weaken the immune system and increase the risk for contracting genital herpes.
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How To Treat A Fever Blister Or Cold Sore
You dont have to leave your fever blister or cold sore untreated. While there is no cure for fever blisters or cold sores, this is one of the dermatological conditions we treat to help alleviate the symptoms and speed the healing process.
There are two options for treating fever blisters and cold sores: topical treatments and antiviral medications. Topical creams are antiviral treatments that can be applied directly to the affected area. Topical treatments can help relieve burning, itching, and tingling.
Dermatologists can prescribe oral or intravenous medications, or shots, to help quicken the healing process. Commonly prescribed medications include acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir. Taking these medications daily can decrease the severity and frequency of outbreaks, as well as help prevent the spreading of the cold sores.
What Are The Similarities
The major similarity between cold sores and genital herpes is that both are incurable once you have been infected with either HSV-1 or HSV-2, the infection will then stay with you for the rest of your life.
However, thats not the only similarity. The two also:
- Are contagious
- Are recurring
- Are dangerous to unborn and young babies. They can be passed on and cause neonatal herpes. This is particularly serious, as their immune systems are not developed enough to fight off the infection. If your child contracts widespread herpes and it isnt treated immediately then there is a high risk of them dying. Thankfully, it is very treatable. You can find out more information about cold sores on the NHSs page about neonatal herpes.
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What You Need To Know About Canker Sores
While the cause of a canker sore is often hard to pinpoint, stress is one possible cause. Or they may sometimes develop after a mouth injury such as when you accidentally bite your lip or tongue, says Dr. Coy.
Acidic fruits and vegetables, including lemons, oranges, pineapples, apples, tomatoes and strawberries, can trigger canker sores or make them worse. It also may surprise you to learn that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, sometimes cause canker sores.
You may have common canker sores if you notice a painful sore or sores on the inside your mouth, your tongue, soft palate , or inside your cheeks.
Treating The Symptoms Of Hpv
Most cases of HPV dont require any treatment. The virus will go away on its own in many people. However, there are treatment options available for treating the symptoms of HPV.
Genital warts from HPV may occasionally go away without medication. Sometimes, medications are used to help lessen the effects of the warts. These include:
Your doctor may also apply trichloroacetic acid or bicloroacetic acid, or cryotherapy to help treat genital warts.
Sometimes a doctor will remove the warts, though this removes the wart not the virus itself. If a high-risk HPV is found, your doctor may monitor you to ensure that cancer doesnt occur, or is caught early.
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Genital Herpes Cdc Fact Sheet
Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted disease that any sexually active person can get. Most people with the virus dont have symptoms. Even without signs of the disease, herpes can still be spread to sex partners.
Basic Fact Sheet | Detailed Version
Basic fact sheets are presented in plain language for individuals with general questions about sexually transmitted diseases. The content here can be syndicated .
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What Is The Difference Between Cold Sores And Herpes
Jennifer is a contributing health writer who has been researching and writing health content with PlushCare for 3 years. She is passionate about bringing accessible healthcare and mental health services to people everywhere.
Ken Cosby M.D.
Ken Cosby M.D.
Dr. Ken Cosby received his medical degree from Howard University College of Medicine and completed his research post-doc work at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health including the National Heart Lung Blood Institute and the National Cancer Institute.
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Whats The Difference Between Genital Herpes And Oral Herpes
Because there are 2 different kinds of herpes simplex viruses that can live on many body parts, lots of people are confused about what to call these infections. But its actually pretty simple:
When you get either HSV-1 or HSV-2 on or around your genitals , its called genital herpes.
When you get either HSV-1 or HSV-2 in or around your lips, mouth, and throat, its called oral herpes. Oral herpes sores are sometimes called cold sores or fever blisters.
HSV-1 usually causes oral herpes, and HSV-2 usually causes genital herpes each strain prefers to live on its favorite area. But its totally possible for both types of herpes simplex to infect either area. For example, you can get HSV-1 on your genitals if someone with a cold sore on their lips gives you oral sex. And you can get HSV-2 in your mouth if you give oral sex to someone with HSV-2 on their genitals.
Can I Be Treated To Prevent Genital Herpes Transmission To My Partner
Yes. A large study showed that if one partner has herpes and the other partner is uninfected, treating the infected partner with suppressive therapy can prevent transmission of symptomatic herpes in over 90% of cases. This is an option for couples who are interested in having unprotected sex or who are planning to become pregnant.
If you are entering into a new relationship and are aware that you have herpes simplex infection, you owe it to your partner to notify them before having sex.
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When Are Cold Sores Most Contagious
Cold sores are considered to be most contagious when the blisters have burst open and have begun to weep fluid. This is because the liquid held in these blisters contains literally millions of herpes simplex virus particles.
During an outbreak, the population of virus particles becomes less and less as the cold sore runs its course. There is a much smaller amount of virus particles present when the sore is healing and when the scab has formed.
However, as there are still virus particles present throughout every phase of the cold sore outbreak the infected area is still considered to be contagious until the skin has completely healed.
If you know that you have come into contact with the virus in the past few minutes or so the simple action of washing your hands and the infected area with soap and warm water can help to sweep away the virus from your hands and other areas. By doing this you can help avoid the virus from spreading further.
Recurrence Course Triggers And Timing
Course of Recurrence
Most cases of herpes simplex recur. The site on the body and the type of virus influence how often it comes back. Recurrences of genital herpes are more likely with HSV-2 infection than with HSV-1 infection.
The virus usually takes the following course:
- Prodrome. The outbreak of infection is often preceded by a prodrome, an early group of symptoms that may include itchy skin, pain, or an abnormal tingling sensation at the site of infection. Headache, enlarged lymph glands, and flu-like symptoms may occur. The prodrome, which may last from 2 hours to 2 days, stops when the blisters develop. About 25% of the time, recurrence does not go beyond the prodrome stage.
- Outbreak. Recurrent outbreaks feature most of the same symptoms at the same sites as the primary attack, but they tend to be milder and briefer. After blisters erupt, they typically heal in 6 to 10 days. Occasionally, the symptoms may not resemble those of the primary episode, but appear as fissures and scrapes in the skin or as general inflammation around the affected area.
Triggers of Recurrence
Herpes outbreaks can be triggered by different factors. They include sunlight, wind, fever, physical injury, surgery, menstruation, suppression of the immune system, and emotional stress. Oral herpes can be triggered within about 3 days of intense dental work, particularly root canal or tooth extraction.
Timing of Recurrences
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Treatment For Cold Sores
They usually go on their own in 10-14 days. Still, over the counter medicines such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen can relieve the discomfort caused by a cold sore and/or may help you heal faster before it gets more severe. Other drugs such as acyclovir, famciclovir, and calacyclovir are taken when the prodrome starts
Remember, these medicines dont kill the virus but they may help to prevent the spread of blisters
Whats The Same Between A Fever Blister And A Cold Sore
Fever blisters and cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex type 1 virus . Most people who have HSV-1 contracted the virus when they were infants. However, HSV-1 can be spread through kissing, touching the persons skin, and sharing silverware, drinks, lip balm, and other items commonly used around the mouth.
Once you have HSV-1, the virus stays in your system for the rest of your life. The virus can lay dormant for periods of time but can be triggered by several things that provoke an immune system response. Some of the same triggers include sickness, stress, sun exposure, menstrual periods, and surgery.
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The Difference Between Cold Sores And Herpes
A lot of people want to know how to tell the difference between a cold sore vs. herpes, but the truth is it’s all herpes.
Throwing around the word“herpes” tends to worry people, which is likely why we’ve developed euphemisms like fever blisters.” But, herpes is way more common than the stigma surrounding it makes it seems. There’s a huge stigma attached to the disease, eclipsed only by the lack of general knowledge about what exactly is herpes. This is frustrating since it affects so many people. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated two-thirds of the global population under the age of 50 have herpes simplex virus type 1, otherwise known as HSV-1, most commonly referred to as oral herpes. Meanwhile, its counterpart, HSV-2, or genital herpes, affects more than one out of every six people aged 14 to 49, according to the CDC. This begs the question: Why are we so scared of something so common?
Here’s more information on a cold sore vs. herpes:
Are Cold Sores And Shingles The Same Virus
While both conditions stem from herpes, the virus types are entirely different and distinct. Additionally, how you obtain each virus is starkly dissimilar.
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus. You acquire cold sores, also known as HSV-1, through kissing or physical contact with infected areas of the skin. Cold sores commonly develop on the lips and/or mouth. Carriers of HSV-1 can transfer the virus during periods where the virus has been triggered and is contagious. Once you acquire HSV, the viral strain will reside in your body forever. Here is a cold sore FAQ.
If you have ever endured chicken pox, also known as varicella-zoster, you could get shingles later in life. Why? Remaining dormant in your body for potentially decades following your initial bout, the virus can resurface. Shingles is the name given to the virus upon recurrence.
While it is unclear as to what causes varicella-zoster to resurface, experts theorize that weakened immune health through the natural aging process could be a factor. The logic suggests that your body no longer can keep the virus dormant. This could explain why shingles typically impact the elderly.
Shingles can be transferred to those who have never had chickenpox. It can also be spread to those who have never had the chickenpox vaccine. Transfer of the virus occurs by making physical contact with the infected area of the skin.
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Herpes Encephalitis And Meningitis
Herpes simplex encephalitis is inflammation of the brain caused by either HSV-1 or HSV-2. It is a rare but extremely serious brain disease. Untreated, herpes encephalitis is fatal most of the time. Respiratory arrest can occur within the first 24 to 72 hours. Fortunately, rapid diagnostic tests and treatment with acyclovir have significantly improved survival rates and reduced complication rates. Nearly all who recover have some impairment, ranging from very mild neurological changes to paralysis.
Herpes simplex meningitis is inflammation of the membranes that line the brain and spinal cord. It is mainly caused by HSV-2. Like encephalitis, meningitis symptoms include headache, fever, stiff neck, vomiting, and sensitivity to light. Fortunately, herpes meningitis usually resolves after about a week without complications, although symptoms can recur.
Is Herpes Simplex Related To Herpes Zoster
Like HSV-1 and HSV-2, shingles can cause a painful, blistering rash. The shingles rash usually shows up on the back, side, abdomen , neck and face. It is often only on half of your body, following the pattern of your nerves. See your healthcare provider if you have a new rash and suspect you may have shingles.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Herpes simplex is a virus. Once you have herpes, its a lifelong condition. A herpes infection can lead to outbreaks , but youll also have times when you have no symptoms. The main sign of herpes is sores that appear on the infected skin. Some people choose not to treat herpes, especially if symptoms are mild. Others take antiviral medications to reduce the severity and frequency of outbreaks.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/17/2022.
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