Cold season has arrived – accompanied by cold sore season. Cold Sores, also known as Herpetic lesions, can present on lips and can be painful and unsightly and affect between 50 to 80 percent of U.S. adults*. They result from the Herpes simplex-virus (HSV), and recurrent infection is common.
What are cold sores? There are two main forms of this virus – HSV-1 and HSV- 2 – with the former generally being the cause of cold sores. Cold sores can be contagious during outbreaks and while they are treatable, patients who get cold sores will always have the virus. Patients who experience cold sore outbreaks often experience a pre-outbreak or “prodromal” sensation. The prodromal sensation may include a tingling or feeling of tightness on the lip at the future site of the lesion. If not treated right away, small vesicles can appear and in some cases secrete fluid or discharge.
What is the best way to treat them? Cold sores are usually self-limiting and often heal on its own within a week or two. You can reduce healing time and symptoms if treated early with antiviral medications like Acyclovir or valacyclovir. An additional approach to treating cold sores is using a dental diode laser. Laser therapy can reduce both discomfort and blemishes. Even if you already have a full-blown lesion, treatment may allow the lesion to heal much faster. Patients who have treated cold sores with a dental laser do not report any pain or discomfort during treatment.
If you think you have oncoming or active cold sore, call Dr. Herman’s office right away and schedule an appointment to see if laser therapy is right for you. We’re standing by to help.
*Source: John Hopkins Medicine