A: Cold sores are painful fluid-filled blisters that are usually found on the lips or the skin around the lips. They are caused by the herpes virus and are contagious. There is no cure, but there are medications that can be used to treat an outbreak. There are over-the-counter (OTC) medications that will help relieve some of the pain. There is also an OTC anti-viral medication (Abreva) that will help speed the healing of the cold sore. Prescription topical creams and oral tablets may also be prescribed. Without treatment, cold sores usually will last around five to seven days. To prevent an outbreak don’t kiss someone who has an active cold sore or use the same eating utensils, towels or razors. Try to keep your immune system up by getting plenty of rest, and consider taking a vitamin supplement. Also use sunscreen on the face and lips before sun exposure and keep your face covered in the cold or wind.
Canker sores are small sores or ulcers found inside the mouth that are painful. They are not contagious. There is no cure, so treatment is for the pain. There are OTC medications that can be used to numb the canker sore. There are also prescription creams that may be prescribed.
Information provided by Lena Mullins, Pharm D., Hy-Vee Drugstore, 1541 S.E. Third St., Suite 100, 986-4527.