Cold sores are oral blisters and lesions caused by the herpes simplex virus. Following initial infection, they may recur when the virus is reactivated.
- Viral infection which causes oral blisters
- Acting fast can help to reduce severity of symptoms
- Get access to effective treatment online
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1 treatment(s) for Cold Sores
Cold sores are pus-filled blisters which appear on and around the lips. They are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1, and in rare cases, HSV-2). There is no cure for the virus which causes cold sores, but treatment can reduce the severity of symptoms, and help them to heal more quickly. When administered upon the very first signs of a flare-up, treatment can stop cold sores from forming.
There are several ways the herpes simplex virus can be transmitted. One is through direct skin to skin contact (such as through kissing). It is possible to spread cold sores via indirect contact with an infected person, such as through sharing eating or drinking utensils without washing them between uses, or sharing items such as lipstick. Cold sores can also be contracted through oral sex or sharing sex toys with someone who has genital herpes (which is also caused by HSV).
The virus is at its most infectious just prior to, during, and for a short time after an outbreak; once burst, the blisters associated with the virus are particularly infectious. HSV remains infectious for a short time even after these blisters have apparently healed. So, it is therefore crucial for someone with a cold sore to avoid kissing or sexual contact with others; and to continue to do so until one week after visible signs of the infection have cleared up.
Cold sores are typically self-limiting. After roughly 1-2 weeks, they will tend to heal themselves without the need for treatment. However, during this time they can be uncomfortable, and have an unsightly appearance.
There is no cure for cold sores currently. When someone contracts the herpes simplex virus, they will have it for life. As a result, cold sores may return when the virus is reactivated. This is more likely to happen when the person with the virus is tired or run down, or when their immune system is weakened due to having another infection such as the flu. Other factors, such as alcohol consumption, stress, sun exposure and the menstrual cycle can also contribute to reactivations.
Treatment for cold sores aims to limit the severity of blisters, and help them to heal faster. When used at the very first signs of an outbreak (tingling and numbness on the mouth or lips) treatment can even prevent a cold sore from developing. Acting quickly is important in limiting a cold sores outbreak. The earlier treatment is applied, the more effective it tends to be.
Aciclovir is the active ingredient in Zovirax, which is available to buy as a cream, orodispersible tablet or an oral suspension liquid. This is an antiviral agent which works by stopping viral cells from duplicating themselves. This enables the immune system to suppress the virus into a dormant state.
Zovirax Cream is available over the counter; whereas Zovirax tablets are prescription only. We provide this treatment on a renewal only basis to patients who have used it before. If you are experiencing cold sores for the first time, we recommend you see your doctor or pharmacist in person.
If you have cold sores and are looking to buy effective treatment, our secure consultation and prescription service can help you get the medication you need. All orders are reviewed by GMC-registered practitioners, before being dispensed at our UK pharmacy and shipped by tracked next-day courier.
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Types of Treatment
At present, there is no cure for cold sores. Once the herpes simplex virus infects a person, it will remain present for life.
This means that when symptoms disappear following initial infection, they may temporarily return after a period of weeks, months or years, before once again becoming dormant.
Cold sores typically take around 1-2 weeks to heal without treatment, depending on how severe they are.
However, antiviral treatment in the form of Zovirax can help to reduce the severity and duration of symptoms. If applied early enough, treatment can also prevent a cold sore flare-up from fully developing.
Zovirax is available as a cream, and also as a tablet for cold sores.
How do they work?
Zovirax contains an antiviral ingredient called aciclovir. This treats the infection by stopping the virus from replicating itself inside the body and spreading.
To thrive, the herpes simplex virus requires the production of an enzyme, called DNA polymerase. This enables it to copy its genetic material and infect cells in the body. Antivirals like aciclovir prevent the generation of this enzyme, thereby halting the growth process of the virus, and leaving it open to attack from the immune system. The body’s natural defenses then render the virus inactive.
What are the side effects?
This treatment is available in a variety of forms and as such, the side effects of each may differ. It is important to read the patient information leaflet provided with your product before you use it, so that you are aware of the potential side effects and are able to seek immediate medical attention if they begin to appear.
More common side effects associated with Zovirax Cream are skin irritation, burning sensations and feelings of itchiness; whereas Zovirax tablets may induce headaches, dizziness, or stomach pain. This is only a brief summary of the possible known side effects, and more detailed information can be found on the product page or in the leaflet supplied.
Can I take them with other medications?
It depends which version you are using. Zovirax Cream is not likely to interact with other medicines; while the tablet version may affect the function of medicines such as probenecid, mycophenolate mofetil, cimetidine, ciclosporin, theophylline, or zidovudine (please note that this list is not exhaustive). Always tell your prescriber about any other medications you are using during consultation.
What’s the difference between the medications?
All Zovirax products contain the agent aciclovir, which is an antiviral medicine indicated for the treatment of herpes infections. The main difference between the three options is their method of application. One is a cream you apply directly to the site of infection; whereas the tablet version is taken orally.
Should I take Zovirax Cream or tablets?
It depends on how severe or frequent your cold sores are, and what you’ve used before. Cream is generally used for infrequent, milder cases, whereas oral tablets may be used if your cold sores are severe or recur on a regular basis.
If you are unsure which is the most suitable option, you can find out by contacting our doctor, or asking your GP.
If you think you may be developing cold sores for the first time, it is advisable to see your doctor in person to get an idea of which medicine will work best for you.
It’s worth noting that if you have already had a cold sore for more than a couple of days, treatment may be less effective. For treatment to work at its best, it should be administered at the onset of symptoms.
Are there different side effects?
Yes. Zovirax Cream may cause skin irritation, sensations of burning, or itching. The most common side effects of the tablet are headache, upset stomach and dizziness. More detailed information relating to the side effects for each product can be found in the safety leaflets provided.
Is it right for me?
When using Zovirax, the method of application you use depends on the nature of your symptoms. If you aren’t sure whether a treatment is right for you, speak to your GP first.
If you have cold sores and have taken Zovirax before, you can get the repeat medication you need delivered right to your door using our secure service. Our consultation facility allows you to have your prescription request reviewed by a doctor, before being dispensed by our UK-based pharmacy.
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