How to treat cold sores

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If you have a cold sore – small blisters on the lip or around the mouth – you’re not alone.

More than half of Americans ages 14 to 49 carry the virus that causes cold sores.

This virus stays in the body, even after the cold sores clear.

If the virus reactivates, or wakes up, you will get cold sores.

Cold sores are different from canker sores, which are not caused by a virus and occur

inside of your mouth.

Many things can trigger cold sores, including:

Stress, fatigue, or being run-down

A cold, fever or flu

Exposure to the sun

Hormonal changes, such as during menstruation or pregnancy

Or, trauma, such as shaving, cuts, dental work; or facial or cosmetic surgery

Cold sores may appear just once in a person’s lifetime or return again and again.

Although most cold sores heal on their own, there are things you can do to help

manage your symptoms.

Follow these tips from dermatologists for treating cold sores at home.

Burning, itching, or tingling may be the first sign that a cold sore may be coming.

When cold sores appear, apply an over-the-counter antiviral cream or ointment.

Although not always effective, this may help slow the reproduction of the virus and relieve

the symptoms.

You can also take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help reduce pain.