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HSE Schemes explained


Cold sores are a viral infection of the lip or mouth caused by a herpes virus. Once a cold sore occurs, the person will be susceptible to them for the rest of their lives. The herpes virus lives on the skin and awaits the opportunity to cause trouble. The opportunity arises when the lip is damaged in any way - by wind, sun or physical injury - a crack appears and in jumps the virus causing the appearance of a cold sore.

Cold sores may also be a sign of a deficiency of vitamin B-complex or the amino acid, Lysine.

Cold sores occur in singles or pairs and may spread in severe cases to the surrounding skin on the face. The start is characteristic, a tiny itch, sometimes described as a tingle, which only a sufferer can recognise. This is the best time to use a cream to stop the sore coming up at all. If you have ever suffered from a cold sore before you should always have an anti-viral cream at the ready in case of an outbreak. The sooner treatment is started the greater the chance of preventing or at least reducing the effect of the virus.

If the cold sore has come up then the anti-viral cream will shorten the life of the sore and prevent it spreading.

As herpes is a virus the only truly effective treatment for cold sores is an anti-viral preparation. The use of an anti-viral cream is recommended.

We recommend an anti-viral cream containing acyclovir, which is by far the best type of anti-viral cream on the market and has been on prescription previously. It acts by preventing the virus attaching to the skin of the lip and so is best used when the first "itch" of infection is felt. Used after the sore has come up it will shorten the life of the sore and prevent it spreading. The cream should be applied five times daily.

If you suffer from cold sores regularly you may be lacking vitamin B and so B-Complex supplements should be considered. The amino acid Lysine should also be taken for several weeks to help build up the skin of the lip and mouth region.

You should always protect your lips from injury, wind or sun. ROC sunscreen stick is a factor 10 -15 screen that is water-resistant and will protect the lips from the weather.

Practical Points:
- At the itch stage, cold sores can be transmitted on contact. Kissing and oral sex at this time are hence not recommended.

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