What are cold sores (herpetic lesions)?
Cold sores, sometimes called fever blisters, are blisters on the lip and around the mouth that are caused by the herpes simplex virus. This virus usually enters the body through a break in the skin around or inside the mouth. It can be spread when a person touches a cold sore or contacts the infected fluid from sharing eating utensils, razors or kissing.
What are the symptoms of a cold sore?
The symptoms (warning signs) of cold sores may include a tingling, itching or pain around your mouth and on your lips, a fever, a sore throat or swollen glands in your neck or other parts of the body. After the blisters appear, the cold sores usually break open, leak a clear fluid, and then crust over and disappear after several days to 2 weeks. For some people, cold sores can be very painful. They may recur in the same location or new locations around the mouth at random or, more commonly, in times of stress, illness or after sun exposure.
How are cold sores treated?
To decrease the duration of a cold sore, treatments may include over-the-counter or prescription skin creams, ointments, and/or oral medications. Please ask our office about these options.
A more effective way to treat cold sores is through laser therapy. Cold sores are most effectively treated before they develop a crust, so as soon as the sore begins to feel tingly or itchy. Laser treatment may prevent the cold sore from breaking out altogether or recurring in the future. The herpes simplex virus that causes cold sores cannot be cured. After you get infected, the virus stays in your body for the rest of your life. If you get cold sores often, treatment can reduce the number of cold sores you get and how severe they are. People who get cold sores will usually get them in the same location every time. After being treated with the laser once or sometimes requiring multiple treatments, there is a good chance the cold sore will not appear again in the same location.
What are the benefits of using a laser to treat cold sores?
- No discomfort during treatment
- Treatment takes a few minutes without anesthesia
- Faster healing
- Relief is immediate and profound
- May prevent recurrence of sore
- May stop the progression of the lesion
- Sores recur with less intensity and frequency at the same location