Cold sores can be painful, irritating, and a downright inconvenience. While they don’t usually pose a serious threat to your health, cold sores cause weepy blisters to appear on and around your lips.
The virus that causes cold sores — herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) — is very common. In fact, up to 80% of adults in the United States get cold sores. Once you have HSV-1, the virus can cause recurring flare-ups.
If you’re dealing with frequent outbreaks, it’s a good idea to discuss treatment options with a health care provider. Here at Hines Dermatology, top-quality dermatologist Yvonne Hines, MD, helps patients manage the common, rare, and difficult-to-treat conditions that affect the skin, including recurrent cold sores.
Medication and lifestyle changes can ease cold sore flare-ups. Take a few moments to learn more about cold sores and possible reasons why you may be experiencing recurrent flares.
Why do I get cold sores?
Cold sores are weepy blisters that form on the lips and sometimes inside the mouth. Herpes simplex type 1 is a highly contagious virus that easily spreads from person to person through contact with the skin or saliva of an infected person.
Once the virus enters your body, it can cause an outbreak of blisters and lie dormant between breakouts.
Why do my cold sores keep coming back?
Once you have the HSV-1 virus, it remains in your body for life. Unlike other viruses, the body is unable to clear HSV-1. The virus is adept at hiding in nerve cells away from the immune system, and it can remain dormant for months, even years, before reactivating.
The blisters form sores that crust over and heal in a couple of weeks. Several factors can trigger an outbreak. The most common triggers include:
- Hormonal changes
- Being sick
- Sun exposure
Learning your triggers is part of reducing the frequency of cold sore outbreaks.
Managing cold sores
There is no cure for cold sores, but if you’re prone to cold sore outbreaks, there are antiviral medications that can help reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks. The following are medications used to manage cold sore outbreaks:
When breakouts do occur, these medications help to speed the healing process and shorten the duration. Daily antiviral therapy can help to suppress outbreaks.
In addition, treatments are available to ease the pain and discomfort you experience from these outbreaks. Cold sore creams and pain relievers can keep you comfortable during an outbreak.
Help for recurring cold sores
Relief from cold sores is just as meaningful as easing the symptoms of other conditions that affect the skin. Don’t hesitate to seek professional help to better manage your cold sores.
To learn more, contact our Attleboro, Massachusetts, office at 508-222-1976 and speak with one of our knowledgeable staff members. Our team is here to answer your questions and concerns. Schedule your appointment with Dr. Hines over the phone or online.