Have you ever had blisters on the outside of your mouth that come up when you are stressed? You may have cold sores, or fever blisters, which are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1 or HSV-2). These are contagious blisters, which start out as blisters and then crust over. Before they erupt, you may notice a tenderness, tingling, or burning even before the blister appears. These lesions clear up normally without treatment in 2-4 weeks, but the virus can live in your body for years. Most people who are infected with the virus that causes cold sores never notice any signs or symptoms. It only shows up as a blister when it is triggered.
Cold Sore Triggers
–Viral infection or fever
–Exposure to sunlight and wind
–Weakened immune system
–Hormonal changes (menstruation)
Cold sores are most contagious when the blisters are oozing, but the virus can be transmitted even when you don’t have blisters. It can be spread by sharing eating utensils, razors or towels, and of course, contact such as kissing. Once you have had an occurrence of herpes, the virus lies dormant in nerve cells in your skin and may return down the road as another cold sore at the same place as before.
Your dentist can help you if you are affected by cold sores. Not only can a dentist diagnose cold sores herpes through a visual exam, but will also review your medical history, and can prescribe medications to reduce outbreaks. The most common medication is an antiviral medication called acyclovir (Zovirax), which diminishes the length of time you have the blisters. Zovirax can be in cream or ointment form, and is applied to a cold sore during any stage of an outbreak.
If you have cold sores, you need to be careful when handling your toothbrush, because if you touch it to the edge of a toothpaste tube, you can accidentally spread the virus to the next toothpaste user. Be proactive and change your toothbrush after every outbreak. To avoid spreading the virus, take care to wash your hands thoroughly, especially after putting ointment on sores.
Your dentist may also recommend that you:
–Reduce your stress levels, as stress is one of the most common triggers.
–Use UV protection with SPF15 or more if you are out in the sunlight.
–Boost your immunity with a multivitamin or extra Vitamin C.
There is help for cold sores, and please don’t hesitate to call our team at 972-298-6131 for more information or if you need help treating an outbreak.