Tis the Season for Cold Sores

They can occur at any time throughout the year, but cold sores seem to make an appearance in a major way as we move deeper into cold and flu season. These lesions are highly contagious, typically painful, and they can be embarrassingly unattractive. In fact, waking up with a mammoth blister on your lips or face can send you running to your Walnut Creek dental office for help, or hiding at home in utter shame.

Commonly known as fever blisters, cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus, and can live in your body throughout your lifetime. The virus can be easily transmitted through a mother’s kiss or a shared water bottle. In fact, the virus is so common that many of us don’t even realize that we’ve come into contact with it.

Unfortunately, this opportunistic virus can flare up at the times that our bodies are least able to resist it– such as during a bout of the flu. When the immune system is weak or particularly stressed, patients who have been infected with the herpes simplex virus may notice that small, fluid-filled blisters will appear on the lips and mouth—seemingly overnight. Over the course of approximately two weeks, these blisters may burst and then become crusted, painful, and unsightly.

There is currently no cure for this infection; however there are some steps that can be taken so that you may make yourself more comfortable during this time:

  • Ask your dentist in Walnut Creek about antiviral creams or pills that can accelerate the healing process.
  • Try a lemon balm to speed the healing process.
  • Apply ice or a cold washcloth to the affected area to ease the pain.
  • Keep yourself healthy. Physical illness and emotional stress are two of the most common triggers for a flare-up.
  • Avoid sharing eating utensils, beverages, lip balms, and other vehicles that could transmit the virus.

For more advice on surviving the upcoming fever blister season, call to schedule a dental appointment today.