What Can Trigger a Cold Sore?

Medically Reviewed on 9/8/2020
Some of the triggers of a cold sore

Some of the triggers of a cold sore

Cold sores are generally caused by a type of herpes simplex virus (HSV) called HSV-1. Rarely, cold sores may be caused by the herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). HSV-2 may cause cold sores when a person had oral sex with someone who has HSV-2 infection.

After you get infected with HSV, it lies inactively in the nerve cells inside your skin and may appear as another cold sore at the same place as before. Some of the triggers of a cold sore include:

Are cold sores contagious?

Cold sores are highly contagious. They may spread from one person to another starting from the period a person feels symptoms, such as tingling and itching, to the time the cold sore has healed completely (when the scab falls and skin has completely healed).

How do I get rid of cold sores?

Cold sore may go away without treatment within a week or two. You may consult a doctor to ease your symptoms and expedite the healing time.

If you get cold sores, the following tips can help you get rid of cold sores faster:

  • Avoid triggers like stress, sunlight, wind, and exertion.
  • Stay hydrated by taking plenty of fluids.
  • Antiseptic mouthwashes may help if brushing teeth is painful.
  • Avoid acidic or salty foods, such as fried and grilled foods, soda, meat, and sugary foods and drinks.
  • Eat cool and soft foods.
  • Do not rub the affected part while applying the cream, dab the cream gently instead.
  • Wash your hands before and after applying cream on the sores.
  • Avoid touching the sores.
  • Use sunscreens and lip balms with SPF.
  • Pain and fever can be treated with OTC (over the counter) painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. Avoid ibuprofen if you have asthma or stomach ulcers or you had them in the past. Aspirin should not be given to children under 16 years of age.
  • Do not kiss anybody while you have a cold sore. Kissing babies while you have a cold sore may cause a dangerous condition called neonatal herpes.
  • Do not share your creams, towels, cutlery, or cosmetics while you have a cold sore
  • Antiviral creams, such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, famciclovir, or penciclovir, may help to speed up healing. You may get the cold sore creams from the pharmacies over the counter without a prescription. Do not share your cold sore cream. These creams are most effective in the initial stages of the cold sore when you begin to feel a tingling or itching sensation. Creams may not be beneficial when frank rashes appear. You may need to apply the cream five times a day for five to six days.
  • Antiviral tablets may be taken on a doctor’s prescription in severe cases.
  • Cold sore patches contain a special gel, hydrocolloid. They can be placed over the cold sore to cover the sore area while it heals.

You must consult your GP if you have cold sores and: 

  • They do not heal within 10 days.
  • You are pregnant.
  • You have compromised immunity due to diabetes, chemotherapy, or HIV.

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Medically Reviewed on 9/8/2020
References
https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/understanding-cold-sores-basics

https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/mouth/cold-sore