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Cold Sores Are Not Cool

Cold Sores
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To most people cold sores might seem to be a comparatively trivial condition; but if you are one of the thousands of people who suffer with cold sores you no doubt find them annoying beyond belief.

With summer on the way and the weather warming up cold sores are likely to become more common. Dry, burnt lips present the ideal conditions for a cold sore to break out.

The good news is there are effective products to treat cold sores, and some excellent information from your local or online pharmacy on how to prevent them from occurring.

Pharmacies which provide Pharmacy Self Care health information have a recently up-dated Fact Card on cold sores. It tells you all you need to know, and more, about these pesky skin infections: what cold sores are, how they occur, what medicines help and how best to use them.

Cold sores are caused by one of the viruses from the herpes family, known as herpes simplex (HSV). There are two types of HSV infections. HSV-1 usually causes infections on the face, such as cold sores around the lips and nose, whereas HSV-2 usually causes genital herpes.

There are four main stages in the development of a cold sore. The so-called tingle is the very first sign of the cold sore. This tingling, burning sensation occurs even before the actual cold sore appears. It is at this time that the new antiviral creams are most effective.

The next stage is the blister. Usually within 24 hours or so of that first feeling of a cold sore coming on, red swollen areas appear and get covered with tiny blisters. These blisters can last for several days. When they burst open and begin to weep, the virus can be easily spread to other people. Products with an antibacterial effect, such as those containing povidone-iodine, are useful at this stage to help prevent the spread of infection.

After the weeping stage, the cold sore dries up and forms a scab which generally heals in about a week without scarring.

Unfortunately, cold sores come back time after time because, as with all the herpes infections, the virus "hides" in the body’s nerve cells away from the immune system.

We are all exposed to the cold sore virus. Not all of us, however, will experience an outbreak of cold sores; but if you do get cold sores, then you’re in good company. Over 20% of our population report having repeated attacks.

Cold sores are easily transferred from person to person, and they can be particularly dangerous if caught by babies or people taking medicine that affects their immune system. They’re not the kind of condition that you can kiss better – kissing’s a sure fire way of spreading them around. But then having the cold sore may also lead to getting a cold shoulder from those you would like to kiss.

There may be no permanent cure for cold sores, at least not yet; but you need to know how best to prevent them and how best to treat them when they do occur. Talk to your pharmacist – so your social life won’t become no social life at all.

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