I am going to go stock up on Abreva and cover-up as soon as I finish this entry. I have never gotten a cold sore but it seems I always come down with a bad case of whatever it is I am writing about. It is great evidence for the mind-body connection but it is quite annoying. It is also embarrassing evidence to how weak and vulnerable my mind is – I swear it wasn’t always this way. I was a smart kid. I did really well on my SAT and MCAT, and now, four pregnancies later, I can’t think of a synonym for smart – or humble. As I am sure I will learn first-hand in the next few days, cold sores can be embarrassing as well.
1. Cold sores are also know as fever blisters. They are caused by the herpes simplex virus type-1 or type-2. The virus can cause outbreaks either around the mouth or in the genital area.
2. What do they look like? Usually, cold sores start as small blisters around the lips. Typically, the skin around the blisters may be irritated and red. After a few days, the blisters will leak a clear fluid and then scab over.
3. What do they feel like? Before the eruption of a cold sore, you may feel a tingling or burning at the site. The cold sore may be accompanied by a fever or swollen glands. Some people experience a lot of pain and discomfort, while for others, the cosmetic implications are the only side effect.
4. How do you get them? Like genital herpes, direct contact is usually the way people get cold sores. Kissing someone who has oral sores is probably a bad idea. You can also get the virus by using the same utensils or cup. Some people have the virus but never get a cold sore on the outside of their mouth. Most people who have a predisposition toward cold sores contracted the virus as a child. I love to maul my kids with love too, but if you have a sore or feel one coming on, it is important to lay off them while you are contagious.
5. How do you prevent and treat them? Once you have the HSV in your system, it is there to stay. It hangs out in one of your nerve endings and waits for the perfect time to emerge. Usually, this is right before you are going to a big party or making a speech. Certain things may draw it out of its hiding space. If you can stop or prevent these, you may be able to prevent the blister from forming. They are stress, colds and flus, lack of sleep and exposure to sunlight. Good luck. Luckily, there are treatments that work to curb an outbreak or shorten its duration. Abreva is an over-the-counter cream that can be used as soon as you feel the tingle. If you get cold sores frequently, talk to your doctor. There are anti-virals that can also be useful for the prevention and/or treatment of cold sores. With or without treatment, cold sores should heal in less than two weeks.
Cold sores are not the same as canker sores – semantics. Cold sores are caused by a particular virus while canker sores have a multitude of causes. Canker sores usually present as shallow ulcers in and on the mouth and gums. They can be caused by injury to the mouth, stress, or other illnesses. They are not contagious. Frequent canker sores may be a sign of a vitamin deficiency.
5-4-3-2 … I am feeling the tingle already – and not in a good way!
Ever notice a strange smell coming from your baby’s room? Diaper is clean, no spilled milk – why do you smell rotten cheese? Does he have a “thing” he won’t put down. Off the topic, I have found the solution – read more.