Cold sores are small infectious blisters that develop on your lips or around your mouth. Between 56-85% of people carry the virus which causes cold sores by the time they are an adult. The first infection usually happens as a young baby or in childhood, though there may not be any symptoms. In 20-40% of young adults who have the virus, the cold sore can come back. Recurrence can occur between two and six times a year.
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex or ‘cold sore’ virus. They are extremely infectious and you can easily pass them from person to person by close direct contact (for example by kissing). You are most likely to pass on the virus when the cold sore bursts, but they are still infectious until they have completely healed and disappeared.
After you have caught the virus, it doesn’t become active until it is triggered by something, and then one or more cold sores develop. Triggers are different for different people. Common triggers are stress, tiredness, an injury to the affected area, strong sunlight, and in women, monthly periods.
Some people have cold sores that come back a few times a year, while others have one cold sore and never have another. Some people have the virus in their body, but don’t know they have it until they get a cold sore.
Once the virus has been triggered, you may feel a tingling, itching or burning sensation around your mouth. Small fluid-filled sores will then appear, most commonly on the edges of your lip. Cold sores are usually quite mild, but can cause complications if drinking fluids becomes painful, as you can become dehydrated.
In young children, the symptoms may be a little different, with ulcers on the tongue, lips, gums and other places in the mouth. They may also have pain, be unable to swallow, drool and become dehydrated, as well as have a fever, general tiredness, loss of appetite and irritability. This is known as gingivostomatitis. If you suspect your child has this condition, you should seek medical advice.
You can leave a cold sore to clear up by itself, which it should do within 10 days. To help ease your symptoms and speed up the healing time, however, you can buy treatment creams from your local pharmacy. It’s best to apply the cream as soon as you feel the tingling, itching or burning sensation around your mouth.
Make sure you avoid close contact with people more likely to pick up infections, for example:
Bonjela Cold Sore Cream is an effective way to treat & help prevent cold sores. It turns invisible when applied.
To treat a cold sore: use bonjela cold sore cream at least 4 times per day until the cold sore completely disappears, typically within 4-5 days.
Suitable for use for adults, children aged 4 years and older and diabetics. Always read the instructions.
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