Cold sore is one of the most common oral illness in America. Although it is hardly a life threatening problem, many people find that the discomfort to be very annoying. Additionally, the contagious nature of the disease puts everyone around the victim at risk. Fortunately, recent advance in medicine made treatment as easy as a trip to the dentist.
Cold sore is caused by Herpes Simplex Virus(HSV). Between out breaks, the virus lies dormant within the facial nerves. When the victim is under stress or when the immune system is compromised, the virus reactivates, and forms itchy sores around the mouth. The fluid that leaks out contains high concentration of virus. The virus then gets on the victim’s hands when he/she scratches the sore, and transfer to other surfaces (e.g. door nob, pencil, and desk).
The sign of outbreak is a tingling spot around the mouth. When that happens, the dentist can zap the spot with laser to eliminate the virus before the out break. If you miss that opportunity, the tingling spot will eventually turn into a sore. At this point, you can only mediate the symptom by soothing the sore. Over the counter drug such as Abreva aims to do just that, and it claims to shorten the outbreak as well.
Another medication, which requires a prescription, is a mixture of acyclovir and hydrocortisone. Acyclovir is a new antiviral drug that stops the virus from replicating. Meanwhile, hydrocortisone soothes the itchiness of the sore.
Cold sore is very contagious, so personal hygiene is important during an outbreak. Wash hands frequently, and curb yourself from scratching the sore. The bottom line is to be considerate to others, and keep the disease to yourself.