Cold sores on the lips of the mouth are caused by a virus called Herpes
simplex. This virus, once established in the skin, will never be
removed. It lives in the nerves of the cold sore sufferer, most of the time
without any signs of being present at all. However certain factors may
cause the virus to enter its reproductive cycle and this is what we see as
the cold sore.
Several factors may cause a cold sore to form, for example ultraviolet light may start a cold sore. This may be from strong sunlight on a holiday or even a sunbed. Other causes are physical and emotional stress, other illnesses such as colds or 'flu may also encourage a cold sore to form. Women may also find that they get cold sores during or just before menstruation (period).
The development of a cold sore has several stages:
TreatmentThere are several treatments available to ease the symptoms of cold sores. These are usually lip ointments applied to the sore to dry it out at the weeping stage. There is now also a newer treatment based on the antiviral drug aciclovir. This treatment is to be used at the tingle stage and acts to prevent the reproduction of the virus and so stop the formation of the sore. It must be applied early to be effective, it only reduces the severity of the sore once the sore is formed.
The types of preparations listed above should not be used on genitals or eyes, in this case you should consult a doctor.
General PointsThere are several things that you should avoid doing while you have a cold sore, the virus that causes the sore is highly contagious and can be passed on extremely easily.
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