Cold Sores; Understanding The medical Treatments

HSV-1 is herpes Simplex Virus type 1 commonly known as cold sores or fever blisters.

In a regular healthy person this affliction is not particularly harmful, only when other health conditions are present can it be considered to be serious.

For example, any immune deficiency or problem with absorption of nutrients such as in cases of irritable bowel conditions (Crohns disease and colitis) then it can be more difficult to treat.

Adults can choose a treatment based on their own belief be it traditional medicine or alternative medicine. If you would like more information on different cold sore treatments feel free to check this link, you will not be disappointed. The Cold Sore Cured website gives unbiased information for clarity on treatments available.

When it comes to children it may be better to err on the side of caution and get medical advice from a physician. Children cannot decide for themselves so it is better to get expert advice when it comes to their treatment rather than using a trial and error approach.  As cold sores usually arise at an early age you will want to ensure that your child does not spread the virus.  The onus is on you to make sure they do not spread the virus by way of drinking cups and straws and so on. It is up to you to educate your child without making a big deal of it.

The onset of this virus may make them appear to be very sick, although it should pass, but symptoms may include fever, nausea, headache, vomiting, upset tummy and/or sore throat.  Although the symptoms themselves are alarming it should not be too serious, however, to be sure that it is HSV-1 it is still best to always consult a physician to make sure it is not anything more serious, especially if they seem to be dehydrated as well.

The jargon

OTC = over the counter

Topical = creams or ointments to be rubbed in to the sores

Lesion = laceration or wound

Prescription only = only available from your Doctor


  • Fortunately for most people the frequency of cold sore flare-ups does not justify anyone having to take daily antiviral medication.
  • There are some preventives such as using high factor broad spectrum sunscreen as harmful ultra violet rays can be a trigger.

Treatments available

  • Even though cold sores will clear up on their own the symptoms can be distressing and depressing.
  • Treatment can cut back on the duration of the distress. Over the counter medicines can be topical ointments and cream.
  • Some over the counter medicines are taken orally in tablet form.

Topical treatments

  • Some topical creams will contain anesthetic properties such as benzocaine, lidocaine, tetracaine or dibucaine.
  • These medicinal anesthetics will relieve the painful symptoms of burning and itching.
  • They may help to prevent the temptation to scratch and make it more sore but they will not shorten the healing time.
  • These types of pain killing creams will only work for around 20 minutes but can offer some relief from the sensation of pain.
  • Topical creams also contain skin protectants such as allantoin, petrolatum or dimethicone products. These additives help to keep the lesion moisturized and prevent cracking.
  • Sunscreen lip balms can be a great preventive from cold sores caused by the sun’s rays.
  • Never use any topical steroid creams, the most common being hydrocortisone cream on cold sores.

The good and the bad for OTC

  • Creams containing 10% docosanol is the only know topical ingredient to actually speed up healing of cold sores.
  • It can be applied 5 times a day to speed up recovery.
  • The problem with docosanol is that a possible side effect is rash and even more itchiness; it is best used when there is a need to heal quickly.

Prescription medicines

  • There are two main ingredients in prescription strength topical medications, one is acyclovir, and the other is penciclovir.
  • The increase in healing time is fairly negligible, but they do help with painful lesions.
  • Check out these topical ingredients for further information on how they work and how to use them.
  • With the help of your Doctor you should be able to find which works better for you.

Prescription pills

There are some prescribed medications for adults only which work well if started before the onset of cold sores.  You will have to see your Doctor who can advise you of any contra-indications and side effects.

N.B Help in deciphering all this information is available by clicking the link on page 1.