Cold sores also known as fever blisters are quite painful skin lesions filled with fluid. They are caused by herpes simplex virus type 1. Right before the blisters occur the person may experience tingling sensations on the area which is going to be affected by cold sores. The person cannot eliminate cold sores once they have occurred. Still, there are more than few medications which can help with symptoms of the disease and accelerate the process of healing. It is even possible to limit the extent of the skin changes.
Treatment for Cold Sores
There is no definitive cure for cold sores. There is not even a vaccine which will prevent from the occurrence of the infection. People who suffer from recurrent cold sores can only prevent the outbreaks of the disease by avoiding certain triggers. For example, sunbathing and exposure to stress can cause the outburst of the disease.
Non-medicamentous therapy includes frequent washing of the hands since this way the infection cannot be spread onto the nearby areas. Furthermore, if one applies cold compresses onto the skin changes the pain may be reduced and the cracking of the lesions can be prevented.
Over-the-counter topical medications take care of the symptoms of the infection. Topical anesthetics can be rather efficient in pain management. These anesthetics most commonly contain Benzocaine, lidocaine, tetracaine or dibuacine. Topical anesthetics also help with burning sensations and increased itching. Skin protectants can prevent cracking of the lesions. The pain may be additionally eliminated by oral painkillers such as Aspirin or ibuprofen. In those who have anticipated the outbreak of the disease Docosanol cream can accelerate the healing process.
Prescribed topical medications include acyclovir or penciclovir. They can reduce the intensity of pain and accelerate the process of healing.
Some patients are prescribed oral medications. They include acyclovir, Valacyclovir and famciclovir. They can be administered in adults. Famciclovir is antiviral medication that has not been tested in children suffering from cold sores. Oral medications are effective in reduction of the outbreak. The best results are achieved if medications are taken during the onset of symptoms before the actual cold sores have become noticeable. There are certain side effects of oral antiviral medications for cold sores and they include nausea, diarrhea and headache. Acyclovir, Valacyclovir and famciclovir can be used during pregnancy not causing any complications. Acyclovir and Valacyclovir can be used during breastfeeding. And finally, patients who suffer from frequent outbreaks of the disease may benefit from chronic suppressive therapy including daily administration of Valacyclovir or famciclovir.