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If you have a cold sore, you’re not the only one. Cold sores are common and contagious viral infections. Whether they’ve experienced a cold sore or not, about 90% of adults worldwide test positive for this virus.

Cold sores have three stages. First, there will be an itching or tingling sensation usually around the lips, for a day or so. Then, small blisters will break out and last for days or weeks. In time the blisters will burst, leaving open sores that ooze fluid and then crust over and finally disappear. The entire process usually lasts from 2-4 weeks.

There is no cure for this virus, but there are ways to treat your symptoms. Over-the-counter ointments such as Abreva, rubbing alcohol, and lip balm may speed up the healing process. Cool compresses and pain relieving creams can alleviate your discomfort. If your breakout is more severe, visit a doctor. He or she may prescribe an antiviral drug.

Two pieces of knowledge may help decrease the frequency of reoccurrences. First, cold sores tend to show up in the exact area where they appeared before. Second, they are often triggered by sunlight, stress or fatigue. If you are going out in the sun for awhile, apply a lip balm with SPF or sunblock to the typical area. Drink lots of water and try to keep your lips moist and cool. Also, make sure that you are sleeping well and practicing stress management techniques, such as exercise or meditation.

Do you have any questions about how to treat your cold sores? You can call Premier Dental in St. George, Utah at 435-628-0621. Dr. Mark Baker and our dental team would be happy to help.