There are millions of Americans dealing with reoccurring cold sores, also called fever blisters. So, please know that, if you are experiencing a cold sore outbreak, you are not alone. However, just because cold sores or common doesn’t mean that they are any less annoying or disruptive. That is why our Santa Monica dentists have put together this short article about cold sores, how to manage them, and when to seek professional care.

A cold sore is a manifestation of the herpes simplex virus. Once you have contracted this virus, it stays present in your system forever, but you will probably only occasionally see a cold sore pop up. Some patients find that cold sore development is linked to increased stress levels or periods of illness.

Here’s the thing about cold sores: there’s nothing you can do to completely kill herpes simplex. The goal, therefore is to:

  • Increase your comfort during outbreaks
  • Encourage healing without scarring
  • Minimize the risk of passing on herpes simplex to someone else

Probably the number one thing to remember is that you do not want to pick at an active cold sore. Doing so will delay the healing process, while increasing the likelihood that you’ll develop scar tissue.

If you have a cold sore that is particularly painful or sensitive, you can:

  • Apply aloe vera to the soothe irritated skin
  • Use ice or cold compresses to numb the sore and minimize swelling
  • Apply a lip balm with SPF to nourish and protect the skin
  • Talk to your dentist or doctor about incorporating an antiviral into your routine

Ironically, the stress of having a cold sore can actually make it harder for the damaged tissue to heal. So, as much as possible, try to limit your stress during an outbreak, and seek out calming experiences and activities.

Give our Santa Monica dentists a call if you want to learn more about fever blisters, and long-term treatment options!