Cold Sores

What are cold sores?

Cold sores are the consequence of a viral infection, normally in childhood. They usually appear on the lips and nostrils but can be more widespread.

How do you catch cold sores?

You can catch cold sores by:

  • Directly touching a cold sore
  • Kissing someone with a cold sore
  • Sharing household objects such as towels, cups and cutlery

What Are The Symptoms?

  • The first signs are usually tingling, burning or itching.
  • Within 24 hours painful blisters form. Blisters breakdown into shallow ulcers after a few days.
  • Cold sores are infectious from the early tingling stage up to the end of the ulcer phase.

Healing is normally complete in 10 to 14 days. In children cold sores can become infected with bacteria and develop impetigo.

Why do they keep coming back?

After the first infection, the virus lies dormant in the nerve that supplies the infected area.

The virus can be reactivated at any time and cause another cold sore.

Various trigger factors are:

  • Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Strong sunlight
  • UV light from sun beds
  • Menstruation or pregnancy
  • Generally when feeling run-down

Our Advice

If you have a cold sore, wash your hands thoroughly if you accidentally touch it.

Do not:

  • Touch the cold Sore
  • Touch your eyes during the infection
  • Kiss (especially children) when you have the infection
  • Pick the ulcers or the scab. You will infect your fingers with the virus
  • Share eating/drinking utensils with others, especially children
  • Share the same towels or face cloths with others in your family
  • Consider rescheduling your dental appointment when a cold sore is present if non urgent as it may cause discomfort during treatment

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