Cold sores are a viral skin disorder caused by the herpes simplex virus. They commonly occur around the mouth and the lips, but they are also known to appear on the nose, cheeks, hands, and other parts of the body. Almost ninety percent of all adults will have experienced a cold sore at one point during their lives. However, after the initial infection, many individuals develop antibodies that protect them from suffering from further outbreaks. Despite some developing a resistance to the virus, others remain prone to recurrent outbreaks. Minor cold sores can be an inconvenient nuisance, but they can also emerge as severe and painful blisters that require additional medication and self-care.
Topical Antiviral Medication
One of the most common methods of treating cold sores is through topical antiviral medication, the most popular of which is docosanol. A doctor may prescribe a stronger medication to treat severe cold sores and promote healing, which usually contains numbing agents like phenol or menthol. These additives help to alleviate pain, soften scabs, and prevent cold sores from cracking and becoming further irritated.
Most cold sore medications work by protecting healthy skin cells from the virus that causes cold sores. Do note over-the-counter medications are not a permanent cure for the virus. Although these medications help to treat cold sores and speed up recovery time, it is still possible to pass the virus to another person during an outbreak.