By Dr. Peter Klapper Ph.D.
Like many, you may suffer from the occasional cold sore, canker sores or fever blisters. Not only are they uncomfortable and painful, they can be downright embarrassing. Cold sores typically appear orally, in and around the mouth, and can last over a week. Today we will be taking a look at just what cold sores are and how you can prevent them. Plus, we’ll examine the multitude of different options for treatment, including over the counter treatments, prescription drugs and our own homeopathic treatments.
What Are Cold Sores?
According to the World Health Organization, the common cold sore is caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (HSV-1). A cold sore is essentially a fluid filled blister appearing in or around the lips and mouth. As such, they can be ruptured, releasing the fluid within which can then become scabbed or encrusted, resulting in unsightly blemishes. These blisters can also include additional symptoms, such as burning, tingling and redness. It is estimated that HSV-1 affects more than 60% of the population under the age of 50. It’s important to note the difference between HSV-1 and HSV-2. While HSV-1 is indeed a form of herpes, it is not transmitted sexually. HSV-2 is the sexually transmitted disease which causes genital herpes. When compared to HSV-1, HSV-2 affects a much smaller segment of the population, only 11% of adults under 50 worldwide.
The WHO estimates While many adults carry HSV-1, symptoms like cold sores won’t always appear. HSV-1 is primarily asymptomatic, meaning that more often than not there is no outward indication that host is infected with the virus. Thus, the majority of hosts may not even be aware they carry the virus. When symptoms do appear, they take the form of blisters and ulcers, which we commonly call cold sores.
Despite the fact that hosts may not be aware they carry the virus, HSV-1 remains highly contagious. HSV-1 is primarily spread from oral to oral contact. That means the virus can be transmitted not only from kissing, but from saliva from shared drinks and utensils. The virus can even be transmitted when symptoms like cold sores are not present. However, the most likely time the virus will be transmitted is when cold sores are present. HSV-1 can also be transmitted to the genital area through oral contact. Finally, while HSV-1 and 2 are both treatable, at present there is no cure for either virus. Once a host becomes infected, they will be infected for life.
If left untreated, cold sores will go away on their own within a few days to a week or longer. However, there are numerous over the counter, prescription and homeopathic treatments to reduce the pain, discomfort and embarrassment associated with an outbreak.
There are a variety of prescription cold sore medications available. Prescription medications for HSV-1 and HSV-2 may come topically, as a cream or gel to be applied directly to the sore, or orally, to be ingested. Prescription treatments are typically prescribed for severe or frequently recurring cases.
Acyclovir one of the first FDA approved prescription treatments to treat HSV-1 and HSV-2 which can cause nausea, mood changes including agitation, confusion, hallucinations and trouble speaking.
Famciclovir approved to treat cold sores, shingles and HSV-2 on the other hand side effects include headaches, nausea, diarrhea, kidney damage and mood disorders.
Valacyclovir commonly prescribed to treat cold sores, HSV-2, shingles and chickenpox is an antiviral drug commonly sold under the name Valtrex can have side effects including confusion, aggression, speech impairment, kidney damage or seizures.
Over the Counter Treatments
A variety of over the counter remedies are available for the treatment of cold sores. These treatments do not require a doctor’s prescription and are readily available to purchase. Often containing harmful chemicals and toxins, most over the counter treatments will focus on treating the pain and discomfort of the sore but won’t treat the virus itself.
Homeopathic Natural Cold Sore Treatment Options
With the skyrocketing cost of healthcare in America, there has been a resurgence of homeopathic remedies appearing on the market to treat a variety of illnesses, including cold sores. Many people have turned to these natural remedies not only for their cost effectiveness, but because they prefer a natural, organic alternative to the side effects of most OTC and pharmaceutical treatments.
We believe that nature holds the key to heal almost every illness and disease imaginable. That is why our products use a dual modality formula, combining homeopathic with pure organic essential oils to prevent and heal illness. Rather than simply suppressing the symptoms, our homeopathic solutions help fight the root cause of the illness by activating the natural healing mechanisms tied to the specific ailment.
Because our products are natural, organic solutions, they are also completely safe to use. There are no acids or harmful chemicals used in any of our products, and you won’t suffer from the side effects caused by prescription drugs. Our H-Balm Control Extra Strength is designed to reduce the pain, burning, itchiness and redness associated with cold sores, canker sores and fever blisters from the very first application. It also aids your body’s immune system, to prevent re-occurrences and outbreaks from appearing in the same location.
If you’re already taking prescribed antiviral medications, H-Balm Control Extra Strength will work in conjunction with them, enhancing their effectiveness, rather than hindering it.
Despite the presence of HSV-1, there are a multitude of ways to prevent outbreaks of cold sores. Here’s a quick rundown on some of the most effective measures of prevention:
- * If you or someone else has a current cold sore outbreak, above all do not share utensils or beverages or other items that may have had contact with the sore
- * Wash your hands thoroughly after touching the sore
- * Avoid touching your eyes after touching the sore; the virus can be transmitted to the eyes, in a form called ocular herpes which can lead to blindness
- * Immediately replace your toothbrush; avoid sharing towels and razors with others
- * Replace lipsticks and lip balms and avoid sharing with others
- * Avoid touching your genitals after touching a cold sore
- * Avoid sexual contact with others, including oral sex when an outbreak is present; condoms do offer some protection from spreading HSV-1 and 2, but they are far from 100% effective
- * If you are pregnant and suffering from HSV-2, notify your doctor, as HSV-2 can be transmitted to the child
- * Limit over exposure to the sun; too much sunlight can cause an outbreak
- * Stress, fever and illness can also cause outbreaks, so try to stay healthy and relaxed
- * You can also avoid additional pain and discomfort by eliminating spicy foods from your diet when an outbreak occurs. Acidic foods are also best avoided when cold sores are present.
- * Do your best to keep the cold sore free and clean from infection by washing regularly with soap and water. A bacterial infection of a cold sore can cause additional complications that may require more serious treatment.