Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Cold Sores

Hello people!

I'm glad to report the my computer troubles are over and totally resolved. (Darn laptop hard drives!) Anyways, today's post involves the topic of oral cold sores (herpes labialis), caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). This condition is quite common in patients and is very annoying to most of them. However, with our ever increasing knowledge and a few relatively new drug treatments, this condition can now be controlled to a relatively minor irritant.

First of all, cold sores which are the recurrent and sometimes painful blisters around the lip area of the mouth have many diverse triggers. Everyone is different but a few points to remember to minimize outbreaks:

  1. Keep a strong immune system: lots of fruits and vegetables to boost vitamin load can keep the immune system at peak condition and minimize the risk of colds and the flu, both of which can trigger outbreaks
  2. Reduce Stress: Being stressed or tired increases the risk of outbreaks via a depressed immune system
  3. Good Lip Care: Don't overexpose your lips to sunlight or excessive wind. A good lip balm can help here. Drinking water also keeps lips hydrated (along with the rest of you)

Remember that at the first tingle of an outbreak, leading up to the highly contagious stage, you will want to practice good lip etiquette: no kissing, no sharing of lip products or drinks.

There are medications like Valtrex (Valacyclovir Hydrochloride) that can help to minimize the effects of outbreaks. These are presciption only and require an assessment by your dentist or physician and should be used only after you have attempted to minimize outbreaks using the techniques above.

Take care and stay safe!

Hans Skariah, B.Sc., DMD