Bye to cold sores, Latest Health News - The New Paper

Bye to cold sores

You have probably heard of cold sores, but perhaps are not entirely sure of what they are and whether there is any cause for concern.

Dr Grace Huang, resident doctor at DTAP Clinic Robertson (Dr Tan & Partners), sheds light on the condition.

What is a cold sore?

It is a small, painful, fluid-filled blister that most commonly occurs near the mouth or on the face. Cold sores tend to occur in clusters.

The appearance of a cold sore is sometimes preceded by an unusual tingling or itching sensation over the same area. The blisters then form and eventually burst, leaving shallow ulcers or open sores which scab over, forming a crusty lesion.

How do they come about?

Cold sores are caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) Type 1.

HSV-1 is extremely common in the general population, with the World Health Organization (WHO) estimating that 3.7 billion people under the age of 50 have HSV-1 globally.

HSV is transmitted through body secretions, such as through saliva when kissing, or sharing of utensils (oral-to-oral transmission).

Oral-to-genital secretion can also occur through oral intercourse. This means that someone with cold sores can transmit HSV-1 to their partner's genitals, resulting in genital sores.

Individuals with HSV are most contagious when they have cold sores, but can still be infectious even when they have no sores or blisters.

How can cold sores be treated or prevented?

While there is no cure for HSV, the good news is that anti-viral medications are extremely effective in suppressing the virus and can be used to treat an outbreak of cold sores.

If you are someone who experiences frequent and painful outbreaks of cold sores, then suppressive anti-viral therapy may be a good option.

This is when you take the anti-viral medication on a daily basis in order to achieve continued suppression of the virus.