Cold Sores (Fever Blisters) generally occur either on the outside of the mouth on the lips, or the harder, non-movable tissue of the gums around the teeth, or on the palate.
They generally recur in the same area, and are caused by the Herpes Simplex Type I virus. A large percent of the population carries this virus, but not everyone experiences the virus becoming active and causing cold sores.
This virus though is completely different than the virus for genital herpes, which is type II.
Fever blisters are contagious. They can be passed with skin to skin contact. The time of greatest risk is from the time it appears to the time it has completely crusted over.
There is much that is not known about Cold Sores, but in general, conditions that increase risks of an outbreak include stress, fevers, colds, other illness, and sunburn can influence outbreaks.
If you get a cold sore avoid squeezing, pinching, or picking the blister. Avoid kissing and other skin to skin contact. Wash your hands before touching people, and use sun block on your lips. Other tips include avoiding salty foods, using over-the-counter ointments containing phenol, applying ice for 30 min, apply rubbing alcohol for 2 min, 4 times per day to the sores to help them dry up. Definitely avoid touching your eye anytime you have a cold sore.
The best way to handle cold sores if you get them frequently is to have prescription medicine with you at all times and take it immediately when you feel a cold sore coming on.
Here are some FDA approved medicines for cold sores:
Denavir cream 1% (penciclovir)Denavir cream was the first antiviral medication to be granted FDA approval for use in the treatment of cold sores (1996). The instructions for Denavir cream state that it should be applied repeatedly throughout the day every 2 waking hours (roughly 9 times a day) for 4 days on those external areas of the lips or face where the cold sore is developing (Denavir cream is not intended for internal use). Application of Denavir should be started as soon as it's sensed that a cold sore has begun to form
Zovirax cream 5% (acyclovir)
Zovirax cream only received FDA approval for use in the treatment of cold sores in late 2002, although other formulations of this medication have been used in the treatment of herpes for many years (including an "off-label" use in the treatment of cold sores in the years prior to 2002). The use of Zovirax cream is similar in nature as with Denavir cream, however the manufacturer claims a more convenient topical dosing schedule.The instructions for Zovirax cream state that its use should be initiated as soon it is sensed that a cold sore has begun to form
The cream is applied to those external areas of the lips or face where the cold sore is developing (Zovirax cream is not intended for internal use), 5 times a day for 4 days.