Cold sores are an annoying reality for many of us. More than 85% of the American population deals with them They are caused by a virus that hides upstream from our nerve endings up in a nerve ganglion. When a certain stimulus is applied to the skin, often the lips, the virus travels down the nerve. Usually you will feel some stinging for a day or so before the ulceration starts and can take about 10 -12 days. It always seems like an eternity.

Common stimulants for the onset are sunlight, chemical, spicy foods or even just bumping the lips. Other people can get them just from going through a stressful period. A few unfortunate people will routinely get them on their lips and gums after dental treatment.

Lip balm with sunscreen is a good preventative measure we should all use when going out on cold or sunny days.

Treatment for the lesions fall into 3 categories.

Laser pointers
That’s right. the same laser pointer you use to drive your cat crazy can cause a 2 – 6 times faster healing of the lesions. Once you feel the sensation of getting a sore you simply shine the light on the area for 30 seconds.
Boom! Done. Here’s a link to a good article and research:

Topical Treatment
There is a good new product out on the market called Viroxyn Professional that has some very promising research. A single application can relieve pain in an hour and cut healing times by a half or a third. We have this product in the office and can apply it for you or can get some to keep with you so you have it on hand in the event of a pending outbreak.

Systemic Treatment
Valtrex has been on the market in the US for several years now and has been helping reduce the suffering for many people. You simply take 2 pills when you start to feel the ulcer and 2 more 12 hours later. It contains acyclovoir, the most anti-viral agent in use. Most people who have taken it don’t want to be without it in the house.

There are no contraindications to combining these treatment modalities, although the won’t prevent the ulcer, they can dramatically decrease the duration of the presence, pain and embarassment.

Let us know if you’d like to pick up some of these products or would like to have a prescription. Worth their weight in gold when you feel that little stinging..

We’re here for you at Dillon Family Dentistry.
Your Bryn Mawr Dentist is just a phone call away.

Just one parting word, ‘Sunscreen’!