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Cold Sores: Treatment Options and How an Online Doctor can Help

Cold sores (also referred to as fever blisters) are groups of tiny blisters that typically occur on the lip or around the mouth. These sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus, type 1 (HSV-1). The skin around the blisters gets sore, red, and swollen, and they can break open and bleed. If left alone, they generally heal within 7 to 14 days.

The herpes simplex virus enters the body through a small break in the skin. From there, it spreads when a person touches the cold sore or the fluid inside the blister by sharing razors or eating utensils, kissing someone, or touching the saliva. Cold sores are easily diagnosed, but difficult to treat. There are many skin creams, ointments, and pills that can lessen the severity, but they do not actually cure the virus. Once you get cold sores, the virus remains in your body for the rest of your life, a process that doctors call “lying dormant” (WebMD, 2013).

On the Path to a Cure for Cold Sores

Scientists believe they have made ground on the path to a cure for cold sores. Several investigators help to discover a new way the immune system combats the type 1 herpes simplex virus (HSV-1). Researchers with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Penn State, and Washington University all participated in a five year study.

Once human cells are infected with HSV-1, the virus hides and blocks protection from the immune system. The research team, led by Dr. English (2009), identified the exact combative cellular mechanism in this biological game of hide-and-seek. A nuclear membrane of an infected cell can uncover the type 1 herpes virus and stimulate the immune system to destroy the virus. Using mice subject cells, the researchers studied the herpes-fighting mechanisms. They now are studying the herpes-combating cellular processes. Their hope is that these findings could hasten the development of new therapies that prevent forms of invading viruses and bacteria. 

Not only does this mean a potential cure for cold sores, but for serious harmful viruses, such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV). The scientists say that they may not be able to completely rid the body of the type 1 herpes simplex virus, but they believe they can keep the virus in a dormant (hidden) state.

Studies Say Short Course Cold Sore Therapy Works

Treatment of herpes infections and recurrent cold sore outbreaks still pose a challenge in the 21 century. Many medications have been useful to suppress the virus. These include acyclovir (Zovirax), valacyclovir (Valtrex), and famciclovir (Famvir). Currently in the U.S., drug resistance to these medications has remained below 0.5% after more than two decades of antiviral therapy. For patients with postherpetic neuralgia (a complication of shingles) and those who are immunocompromised, these treatment options remain first line therapy (Field & VereHodge, 2013).

According to Dr. Spruance and colleagues (2003), a high-dose, short-duration of valacyclovir effective treats episodic cold sores. Not only is it better absorbed than the other antiviral agents, it provides faster resolution of the blisters. In two randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials, the researchers studied participants who were given two gram of valacyclovir twice daily for 1 day of treatment compared to those who received a one gram dose for 2 days. Also, they studied participants who received placebo compared to treatment. They concluded that a simple, 1 day treatment with valacyclovir is a safe and effective regimen for the treatment of cold sores.

Telehealth Service Options for Cold Sore Solutions

If you or your child has cold sores, consider using the healthcare services of a virtual doctor. The healthcare professional can treat you remotely and offer an prescription. According to information from the Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, there are numerous reasons why people should use telehealth services. These include:

• Allows for a more informed decision
• Enhances the quality of care
• Creates a more convenient, efficient delivery of care
• Saves you money
• Leads to a faster, more accurate diagnosis
• Improves administrative coordination
• Enables senior wellness and preventive care

Cold Sore Prevention


While there is no current cure available for cold sores, there are ways you can prevent contracting the virus. Also, if you have HSV-1, you need to protect your loved ones and others from getting it from you.  Here are some suggestions:


• Avoid coming into contact with infected body fluids, such as kissing an infected person.
• Avoid sharing eating utensils with others, such as forks and spoons.
• Avoid things that trigger a cold sore breakout, such as colds or stress.
• Always wear sunscreen and lip balm.
• Avoid sharing razors, towels, toothbrushes, or other objects with people.
• Wash your hands often and avoid touching your sore.
• If someone has a sore, do not touch it or shake hands.

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