There is no known cure for cold sores. Cold sores go away on their own, but some medications may be helpful for preventing the progression of cold sores or for treating cold sore pain.
Medications for treating cold sores:
- Acyclovir*, a topical (applied on the skin) antiviral medication, can be applied in an ointment form to the cold sore 4 to 5 times daily.
- Your doctor may prescribe a combination of topical acyclovir and hydrocortisone cream. This medication may stop the progression (ulceration) of the disease if used at the prodrome stage (at the first sign of symptoms, before the actual sores have appeared). It can reduce the ulceration of lesions, speed up healing by 1.4 days and reduce the duration of pain by 1 day.
- Acyclovir, famciclovir, or valacyclovir medications can be taken by mouth to prevent the development of a cold sore. These antiviral medications can be helpful when you start taking them within one hour of when your symptoms start, or if you take them when you are exposed to known cold sore triggers (e.g., sunlight). In these cases, these medications can shorten the amount of time it takes for a cold sore to heal by 1 to 2 days.
- Some cold sore remedies are available without a prescription. These products are usually liquids, ointments, gels, or balms. They can contain lip moisturizers and protectants to prevent cracking and excessive drying of the lips, or anesthetics that help to reduce the pain of cold sores. These products may help in relieving some symptoms, but will not stop the progression of the sores nor stop the virus replication.
- Docosanol is an antiviral blocking agent which, if applied when prodrome symptoms arise, may help prevent the cold sore virus from spreading into healthy tissue, limiting the growth of the cold sore. It shortens healing time and the duration of cold sore symptoms including pain, burning, tingling, and itching.
If possible, try to limit exposure to the triggers described in "Causes." For example, if sunlight tends to give you cold sores, apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to your lips and face 30 minutes before going out into the sun. You should also avoid tanning beds. Reducing stress by eating properly and getting enough sleep, exercise, and relaxation may also help prevent cold sores.
If you experience frequent, severe cold sores or have a weak immune system, medication may be prescribed by your doctor on a continuous basis to suppress the virus.
To keep from getting infected with the cold sore virus, it's important to avoid contact with it. Never touch active lesions in other people (through kissing or oral sex).
When cold sores are active, wash your hands frequently to avoid passing the virus on to others. Try to keep away from newborns or people who have weakened immune systems, since they are more likely to develop severe cold sores.
*All medications have both common (generic) and brand names. The brand name is what a specific manufacturer calls the product (e.g., Tylenol®). The common name is the medical name for the medication (e.g., acetaminophen). A medication may have many brand names, but only one common name. This article lists medications by their common names. For information on a given medication, check our Drug Information database. For more information on brand names, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2017. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/condition/getcondition/Cold-Sores