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Coping with Cold Sores

No one likes getting colds sores. If you have had cold sores before, you will know how painful and uncomfortable they can be. Some people are more prone than others to getting cold sores.

"Cold sores may look harmless, but they can spread easily if not cared for properly and cause other health problems," advise Self Care pharmacists.

Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex type 1 virus. You will usually have your first exposure to the virus during childhood. After your first infection, the virus stays in your body until something triggers it.

Stress is one of the major triggers of cold sores. When your body's defences are down during times of stress, the virus takes this opportunity to cause an infection. Strong sunlight or ultraviolet light (UV), can also trigger cold sores.

Some people can often get cold sores after a skiing trip. "Using a lip sunscreen while skiing can help to prevent the UV light activating the virus," advise Self Care pharmacists.

People with eczema, or lower immunity caused by certain drugs, can also get cold sores frequently. "Some women often get cold sores around the time of their period."

A cold sore usually starts out as a tingling or burning feeling. Some people say the tingling feeling is a reminder they will get the painful cold sore soon. The skin where the cold sore will appear can be itchy as well.

After this first warning sign, a red swollen patch appears which turns into a blister or a group of blisters over the next 24 hours. Within the next few days the blisters become painful sores. These sores may also begin to crack or weep.

Eventually a cold sore will heal by drying up and forming a yellow-brown crust. This crust falls off over a few days and does not leave a scar.

The cold sore should have completely disappeared in 10-14 days after it began. However the virus will stay in your body till it is triggered again.

The cold sore virus can be spread very easily, even from the time the tingling sensation begins. Women can spread it from their lip area to their eyes when applying or removing make-up. Even sharing utensils with someone who has a cold sore can spread the virus. "The virus can also be spread to your genital area," caution Self Care pharmacists.

Self Care pharmacists advise people to wash their hands thoroughly after bathing or treating a cold sore. "Do not touch or rub your eyes without first washing your hands," caution Self Care pharmacists.

Cold sores can't be cured but treatments are available that will help relieve symptoms like the pain. The ideal time to treat cold sores is when you get that tingling sensation before the cold sore appears. Self Care pharmacists can advise you about the different treatments available and suggest the most appropriate one for you.

If you have some questions about cold sores or just need some extra information, talk to your local Self Care pharmacist and get your free copy of the fact card on Cold Sores.

For further information please contact: Your Local Self Care Pharmacist


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