Cold sores

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Cold sores are the blister sores you get around your mouth and lips and are caused by the herpes virus.

Around 80 per cent of Australians carry the virus but only around one third of people with the virus actually experience cold sore outbreaks. It can be easily picked up through kissing or sharing a drink.

If you do suffer from cold sores, it is very important to recognise any events or circumstances that trigger your outbreaks.

Then you can be prepared. For many people it could be excessive amounts of chocolate or wine, or when they become stressed, run down, have lack of sleep or catch a cold or flu.

Ensuring you maintain a healthy immune system is vital to preventing cold sores. Other triggers include sun burn and dry or damaged lips, like those caused by windy conditions.

August typically has cold and windy weather so be extra vigilant this month. The earlier you treat your cold sores the better, so it’s important to know the early signs you are developing one.

Often one or two days before the blister forms, you may experience a tingling, itchy or burning sensation around your lips.

This area may also be red or slightly raised. If you treat at this early stage you can prevent the blister from forming altogether. Once the blisters start to form they will eventually scab over and heal.

When the sores are visible the virus can be easily spread so do not share drinks or kiss anyone. If you do nothing to treat the cold sores, the entire healing process will take around 10 days.

Preferably you should treat as soon as you feel a tingle, but you can treat the cold sore at any time.

There are a number of pharmaceutical and natural treatments that greatly reduce the healing time and also prevent the cold sore forming so talk to your pharmacist.

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