Cold Sores

Q. What is a cold sore ?

A. A cold sore is a small, painful raised area of small, fluid filled blisters, usually where the lip joins the surrounding skin. The blisters are painful and dry up to make a yellow crust which gradually heals in a few days. Cold sores are usually found on the lip but you can get them in other places, such as in the nostrils, on the nose or arount the outside of the mouth. Cold sores last 5-7 days.

Q. How do i get cold sores ?

A. Cold sores are caused by a virus ( a ‘herpes simplex’ virus ). You first get this virus in childhood or early adulthood, and it may cause a fever and mouth ulcers (called ‘primary herpetic gingivestomatitis’ ).

Q. What brings on the cold sore ?

A. Cold sores ususlly appear when people are ill with comething else, for example with a cold ( hence the name ) Sunlight and ultra-violet light can often bring on an attack of cold sores, and occasionally women find that they develop cold sores at particular stages of their menstrual cycle.

Q. Can cold sores be treated

A. Yes. Antiviral creams, such as acyclovir and penciclovir, ease the pain and blistering and help the sores heal more quickly. You can buy acyclovir from a chemist, but penciclover has to be prescribed by your doctor. Both these creams should be applied as early as possible when the cold sore starts to develop and should