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So you’ve got a cold sore. You’re not alone. Cold sores, also called fever blisters, are common viral infections that are spread from person to person by way of close contact. About 90% of adults worldwide test positive for this virus, even if they’ve never experienced the symptoms.

Cold sores usually pass through three general stages. First, you’ll feel an itching or tingling sensation around your lips for a day or so. Then, small blisters will break out, usually on the outside edges of the lips. The blisters will eventually burst, leaving open sores that ooze fluid and then crust over. They typically heal completely within two to four weeks without treatment.

If you have the virus, you should know that there is no cure, but there are ways to treat your cold sores. Over-the-counter ointments such as Abreva, rubbing alcohol, and lip balm can aid the healing process. Cool compresses or pain-relieving creams can relieve your discomfort. If your breakout is more severe, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral drug.

There are also ways to decrease the chances of reoccurrence. Cold sores tend to show up in the exact area where they appeared before. Also, sunlight exposure can trigger cold sores. If you are going out in the sun for awhile, apply a lip balm with SPF or sun block to the area. Drink lots of water and try to keep your lips moist and cool. Stress and fatigue can also trigger the infection, so make sure that you are sleeping well and practicing stress management techniques like exercise or meditation.

Do you have any questions about how to treat your cold sores? You can call Dr. Stephen Henry DDS in Foster City, California at 650-341-5656. Dr. Stephen Henry would be happy to help you with whatever you may need.