Imagine this scenario: you wake to a tingling, burning sensation on your lower lip and then remember the upcoming (insert important event here) you have this week, dread and disappoint follow. If you suffer from cold sores this narrative is all too familiar.

In this blog, we will discuss

  • How to tell if you have cold sores
  • How to prevent cold sores
  • How to treat cold sores (spoiler alert – lasers!)
How to tell if you have cold sores?
A cold sore, also known as herpes labialis or a fever blister, is a harmless but irritating fluid-filled blister that goes away in about 10 days from the first symptoms (tingling or burning sensation). They appear on the lips and sometimes the skin around the lips.
Herpes labialis, cold sore virus, is contracted like any other virus. Usually, a person with an active fluid-filled blister exposes a person without the virus. An example of this would be a mother with an active cold sore kissing her child. When first infected the symptoms mimic the common cold. The virus then can lay dormant in the body until it returns presenting as sores on the lips.  

Canker sore vs cold sore

Often cold sores are misidentified as canker sores. A canker sore is a  white, yellow or gray ulcer that occurs inside the mouth. Canker sores are usually caused by trauma (e.g. chip to the roof of the mouth) or exposure to certain foods (e.g. Cadbury egg season). The best way to tell is canker sores are inside the mouth and cold sores are generally outside the mouth.

What can you do to prevent cold sores?

So, you’ve got the virus already. What can you do to prevent future outbreaks? Many stimuli can put you at risk for a cold sore outbreak.

Risk factors that can cause an outbreak of cold sores are:

  • Fever
  • Wind exposure
  • Sun exposure
  • Stress
  • Change in weather
Many of these risk factors are difficult to control, particularly stress. For oral implications and tips on reducing stress check out our blog post.  Sun exposure can be a big risk factor, be sure to use protection, e.g. sunscreen, when in the sun to avoid cold sore outbreaks.

Don’t reinfect yourself

If you already have an active cold sore blister take care to not touch it. If you have touched the blister, wash your hands thoroughly. The fluid from the blister can spread and cause other blisters on noninfected areas of the lips, eyes, or fingers.

How can you treat a cold sore?

For many, the option of waiting for 10 days for a cold sore to heal is daunting or simply not possible. Although nothing will take away the cold sore away instantly, many remedies help the blister go through the healing process.
The most common method to treat cold-sores has been ointments and oral medications that are antivirals. A newer therapy is treating the sore with a laser.

Laser therapy

At Legacy Dental we provide laser therapy on active cold sores. This is best done in the tingling, burning stage of a cold sore. By catching it early, it will help the blister move through the phases faster and possibly make it not as big. Laser therapy is a great option without side effects.

The typical appointment to laser a cold sore

Getting a cold sore lasered is a quick, painless appointment. At Legacy Dental no appointment is necessary and all of our doctors and hygienists are trained in treating cold sores.
After the consultation between you and the provider, you will be given safety glasses to wear. The laser will be used to treat the affected area. It is painless, most people describe the sensation as feeling nothing or warmth. That’s it!
If cold sores are a recurring ailment for you or your case is extreme, medications may be suggested.
The next time you feel that telltale sign of a cold sore don’t wait, call us a let us treat it with the laser!

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