Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are itchy, painful, and unsightly swelling in the skin, particularly near the mouth area. This condition is caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus I (HSV-1) which damages the skin as it reproduces. Research shows that a large number of Americans become infected with cold sores during their early twenties. This might be due to several external factors. Then as a common problem, is this condition contagious? Read on to learn more about it.
Are Cold Sores Contagious?
The initial appearance of cold sores gives an itchy and tingling sensation around the mouth. However, at this stage, it is not yet contagious. The sores started to become contagious during the healing process. The infection rate is often high during the rupture stage since fluids are starting to seep out from the sores. Simple activities such as eating, talking, and smiling may lead to scab breakage, causing the leaking of the fluids from the cold sores.
How to Avoid Spreading Cold Sores
Simple gestures like kissing near the mouth can easily pass and spread the virus from one person to another.
Never share to others anything that is being put in the mouth. This may include foods, eating utensils, straws, cups, and drinking glasses.
Refrain from touching the mouth, especially near the cold sore area, to prevent spreading the virus. Wash hands immediately with soap and water or use sanitizers more frequently.
Avoid engaging in oral sex
Direct contact of cold sores to genital areas can lead to further irritations and additional infections which may be harmful to both partners.
Use hot water
Washing any items and utensils with hot boiling water can help kill and reduce the virus present in the area.
Prevention is better than cure. Maintain a healthy body and lifestyle at all times. Use protective gears and materials such as lip balms to prevent the cold sores from drying.
Use cold sore treatment
If left untreated, cold sores may take a week or more before healing. Since you have known the answer to the question "are cold sores contagious", you will know when left untreated, it can extend the infection of cold sores. The regular occurrence of cold sores may also lead to other complications, thus it is highly advised to treat this immediately. Speeding up the healing process may be done using several treatments and medications.
Antiviral ointments. Antiviral ointments, like Penciclovir (Denavir), can be used to promote healing of cold sores. They are proven effective and safe, especially if applied immediately on the affected area. It is highly recommended to apply antiviral ointments four to five times a day for five days.
Docosanol cream. Another effective treatment for cold sore is the Docosanol (Abreva) cream. This over-the-counter (OTC) treatment can help shorten the outbreak of the virus. Recommended usage for this cream is several times per day.
Medications. Oral antiviral medications can also be used in treating cold sores. Some of the commonly used are Acyclovir (Zovirax), Famciclovir (Famvir), and Valacyclovir (Valtrex). These drugs are available only with a prescription. Consultation from doctors is highly recommended for proper instructions on the proper consumption of these drugs.
Besides using medications, you can also take the following tips to avoid infection since you have gotten a "yes" to the question "are cold sores contagious".
Applying washcloths soaked in the cold water or ice may reduce the pain caused by the sores.
Lip balms with lemon extracts can also be used as an alternative treatment.
Taking lysine supplements regularly can also help lessen the frequent outbreaks of cold sores.
Aloe Vera can also be used due to the cooling effect of the gel. This can give a soothing relief to the affected area. The gel can be applied to the cold sore at least three times per day.
Petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, may help ease the discomfort brought about by the sores. It will not heal the sore but will prevent cracking. This will also serve as a protective barrier against foreign matters and outside irritants. The application can be done frequently or when needed.
Witch Hazel, a natural astringent, can be used to dry out the cold sores. It can also aid in healing and recovery. Drying up the affected area can sometimes lead to a faster rate of healing, depending on the person using it.
Remember that prior to application of any home remedies and treatments, it is important to first clean the affected area. Use a clean cotton swab or cotton ball in applying the chosen method or form of medication.
Cold sores are one of the most common skin irritations that should be given attention. Simple home remedies and treatments can be done to immediately address the problem. However, since you have known the answer to "are cold sores contagious", seeking medical help is highly recommended to guarantee that the source of the condition is being treated. This will also prevent recurrence and other possible irritations and infections.
Proper care of the body should always be a priority. This includes a well-balanced diet and regular exercise. The diet should include all the essential nutrients needed by the body to grow strong and healthy. Regular exercise routines should also be practiced to guarantee a fit and vigorous physique. Always remember that health is wealth.