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Beat the common cold sore; INSIDE & OUT with Spire Healthcare.

Q: I have developed a small blister on my lower lip that my GP has told me is a cold sore. What is this? A: A cold sore is an infection caused by the virus herpes simplex. There are two kinds of herpes simplex viruses, type 1 which is the usual cause of cold sores around the mouth, whilst type 2 causes genital herpes.

Cold sores are very common and the virus is very contagious; about 8 in 10 people in the UK have been infected with type 1. The type 1 virus can be passed between people by kissing, and infection is usually passed on in childhood.

Despite being so common, not everyone who carries the virus will get a cold sore. The immune system is not able to get rid of the virus because it tends to hide inside nerves where the immune cells are unable to get access. This means that at times of stress, during a period, exposure to sunlight, or infections, the virus can emerge and cause problems.

If you are prone to cold sores, it can help if things that precipitate an attack can be avoided. If you think you have a cold sore, then it is best to avoid kissing others until it has gone, and to avoid sharing lipstick, and eating and drinking utensils.

The symptoms of a cold sore start with a tingling at the site where it is due to appear. It becomes a small spot that may last for a week or so before disappearing without a scar.

Sometimes it may go on to become infected and develop into a small blister.

The most common treatment for a cold sore is an ointment including a medicine called aciclovir.

This is available as an ointment over the counter at the chemists. It works by interfering with the DNA of the virus. It works best when it is applied as soon as the tingling starts, and can reduce the length of symptoms by about 20%. In more severe cases, your doctor may give you aciclovir tablets that have to be taken five times a day.? The content of this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other health care professiona
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 26, 2011
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