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Cold Sore Medications: Fast Facts


  1. There are more than 20 different viruses in the herpes family, but fewer than half are regularly transmitted among people.
    Learn more about the herpes virus.
  2. Herpes simplex virus type 1 usually causes cold sores, but it can also cause genital herpes or eye infections.
    Learn more about HSV-1.
  3. Herpes simplex virus type 2 is usually associated with genital herpes, but in some cases it can cause meningitis.
    Learn more about HSV-2
    .
  4. Epstein-Barr is a type of herpes virus that can cause mononucleosis, lymphoma and cancer.
    Learn more about the Epstein-Barr virus.
  5. Varicella-zoster virus, also known as human herpes virus type 3, produces shingles and the chicken pox.
    Learn more about the varicella-zoster virus.
  6. Medications for cold sores can only treat the infection -- they cannot cure it.
    Learn more about cold sore treatment.
  7. Before you even have to treat that next cold sore, minimize outbreaks by avoiding triggers such as sickness, stress and the sun.
    Learn more about cold sore triggers.
  8. Your average lip balm may not heal your cold sore, but it can help protect against breakouts: Lip balms and sticks with sunscreen can shield against the triggering sun.
    Learn more about protective lip products.
  9. To keep pain at bay, use cold sore treatments that contain an anesthetic. Look for products with "caine" in the list of active ingredients, such as lidocaine, tetracaine, dibucaine or benzocaine.
    Learn more about topical anesthetics.
  10. If you regularly get cold sores, ask your doctor to recommend an antiviral medication. Though such medicines won't cure you, they should control the number of outbreaks you have.
    Learn more about antiviral medications.
  11. Don't make things worse: Your toothbrush can hold the herpes virus for up to a week after an outbreak. If you brush with the same toothbrush, you could give yourself more cold sores.
    Learn more about extra precautions.
  12. To avoid getting oral herpes and to limit your outbreaks, be selfish: Keep your stuff to yourself. Don't share makeup, food utensils or bathroom toiletries.
    Learn more about what not to share.
  13. The following home remedies may not have scientific studies behind them, but they could work for you:
    • Cold compresses
    • Warm compresses
    • Lysine pills
    • Vitamins C, E or B12
    • Topical tea tree oil
    • Topical zinc
    Learn more about home remedies for cold sores.

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