The Monster Lurking on Your Lips

Cristian V. / Foter / CC BY-ND

If you have ever had a cold sore, you know how embarrassing they can be and how isolated they can make you feel. It should make you feel better to know that you are not alone: cold sores affect a whopping 8 out of 10 people. This may seem high, but even if you don’t remember getting a cold sore, you could still be a carrier, as most people are exposed to the virus before the age of seven. Some people who have been infected might not display any symptoms at all, and may never actually have an outbreak.

There is an urban legend floating around the internet that you can contract cold sores during your dentist appointment, but that is simply not true. Dr. Postol sterilizes everything we use and takes as many precautions as possible to avoid transmission of diseases between staff, other patients, and you. The fact is, you probably got the cold sore from kissing or sharing drinks someone who had an active breakout.

Cold sores really are a type of the herpes virus, which unfortunately means it never leaves your body, staying in a “sleeping” state until something causes a recurrence. The sores usually appear on or around the lips, in the form of a blister that goes through a series of stages throughout a span of about 8 to 12 days. If you have a sore inside your mouth it is almost certainly a canker sore and not a cold sore. Dr. Postol will be able to tell you what condition is affecting you and what your treatment options are.

Things that can trigger a recurrence include: stress, another illness, being run-down, a poor diet, drinking too much alcohol and basically anything that weakens your immune system. If you know you get cold sores, let Dr. Postol know before your appointment, especially one that involves a lengthy procedure. The trauma to your lips that can occur during this type of visit could trigger an outbreak or, if you are already having an outbreak on the day of your appointment Dr. Postol may want to reschedule.

There are many ways to treat cold sores, but one of the best and newest treatments is known as Viroxyn. This medicine is put directly on the affected area in a single, easy to use topical application. It not only provides relief from pain, itching and burning within 5 to 15 minutes, but it also shortens the duration of outbreaks from ten days to three or four days. Ask Dr. Postol where you can find this treatment and if it is right for you.

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