Image Collection: Oral Health
- All (557)
- Allergic Skin Disorders (31)
- Viral Skin Diseases (26)
- Bacterial Skin Diseases (29)
- Fungal Skin Diseases (17)
- Bites and Infestations (27)
- Noncancerous, Precancerous and Cancerous Tumors (56)
- Diseases of Pigment (26)
- Papules, Scales, Plaques and Eruptions (47)
- Vascular, Lymphatic and Systemic Conditions (48)
- Scalp, Hair and Nails (26)
- Pregnancy Stages (9)
Currently, there are no cures or vaccines for cold sores caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Frequent hand washing will help reduce the spread of the virus to other parts of the body or to other people. Also, applying cool, moist compresses to the lesion may decrease pain and keep the lesion from drying and cracking.
Most topical over-the-counter (OTC) products provide symptomatic relief only; they do not decrease healing time. Using topical anesthetics that contain benzocaine (5%-20%), lidocaine (0.5%-4%), tetracaine (2%), or dibucaine (0.25%-1%) will help relieve burning, itching, and pain. The most commonly recommended products are Lipactin gel and Zilactin.
Treatment with prescription-strength medications such topical acyclovir (Zovirax 5% cream) or penciclovir (Denavir 1% cream) will reduce healing time by approximately half a day and decrease pain associated with the lesion.
The current FDA-approved oral antiviral medications used in the treatment of herpes simplex virus in adults are acyclovir, valacyclovir (Valtrex), and famciclovir (Famvir). Famciclovir has not been tested in children with cold sores. The medications are generally well tolerated with few side effects. Most common side effects include headache, nausea, and diarrhea.
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Skin Problems and Treatments Resources
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