How Quickly Does It Work
Valtrex is an antiviral medication, which means it can help shorten the duration of cold sores.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, cold sores can last for around 1012 days without treatment. Valtrex may reduce the formation of cold sore blisters by up to 2 days.
Valtrex may cause side effects for some people. According to the NLM, the most common side effects may include:
The most common side effect is a headache.
The NLM also state that dizziness is a common side effect in people using Valtrex for cold sores.
Other symptoms may occur when treating either shingles or herpes with Valtrex at different or prolonged doses.
Why Genital Herpes Comes Back
Genital herpes is caused by a virus called herpes simplex. Once you have the virus, it stays in your body.
It will not spread in your body to cause blisters elsewhere. It stays in a nearby nerve and causes blisters in the same area.
If you can, avoid things that trigger your symptoms.
Triggers can include:
- surgery on your genital area
- a weakened immune system for example, from having chemotherapy for cancer
How To Heal A Herpes Outbreak Quickly
This article was medically reviewed by Lacy Windham, MD. Dr. Windham is a board certified Obstetrician & Gynecologist in Tennessee. She attended medical school at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis and completed her residency at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in 2010, where she was awarded the Most Outstanding Resident in Maternal Fetal Medicine, Most Outstanding Resident in Oncology, and Most Outstanding Resident Overall.There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 94% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 125,951 times.
Herpes is caused by a virus called herpes simplex. Once the virus enters ones body, it will always remain there by hiding in the nerve roots. When ones immunity is lowered, it will result in outbreak. Sores usually take about 1-2 weeks to heal, but there are some things that you can do to speed the healing process. Things like allowing your sores to be exposed to air, talking to your doctor about medications, and using ointments may help speed healing time. There are also some things that you can do to reduce and prevent outbreaks, such as reducing prolonged exposure to sunlight, reducing friction during sex, and managing stress.
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What Is Primary Oral Herpes
Primary oral herpes refers to the initial outbreak of symptoms after infection, often presenting with painful sores on the lips, gums, and mouth.
In some people, primary herpes is associated with:
- and sore throat.
These signs and symptoms may last several days. Difficulty in eating and drinking may lead to dehydration. The sores heal completely in 2-6 weeks, usually without scarring. Virus can be recovered from the saliva for days after the lesions heal. Primary herpes usually occurs during childhood.
Not everyone has a severe primary attack when they are first infected with herpes. In most people, the virus infects the body without causing any symptoms. The process generates an antibody response, causing the immune system to produce antibodies against the herpes virus. This antibody response helps reduce recurrences and keep them mild. Antibodies also make it harder for the virus to get a foothold somewhere else in the body. However, it is possible to transfer the herpes virus to other parts of the body .
There are two types of HSV, herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2.
- In general, HSV-1, also known as herpes labialis or oral herpes, causes infections above the waist, most commonly as cold sores.
- HSV-2 infections occur mainly below the waist, leading to genital herpes.
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Stage : Tingling Stage
For more than 85% of cold sore sufferers, outbreaks often begin with symptoms such as a tingling, tightness, soreness, or itching around the lips. This stage lasts 1-2 days. Most often, the tingling sensation is experienced around the area where the cold sore will appear. The area then starts to swell and redden and can feel painful to touch. Remember that a cold sore is contagious from the moment you first feel tingling or other signs of a cold sore coming on because the virus has already replicated.
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Stage : Scab Formation
Your burst blister will dry out forming a yellow-brown scab.i Although this is unsightly, its a sign that your cold sore has begun healing.
As the scab shrinks, it may create painful cracks in your lip that bleed. The area may itch, burn, or feel tight. To ease discomfort, try a cream or balm containing protectants, such as allantoin, petrolatum, cocoa butter or glycerin.iii
Its a good idea to wear a sunscreen of at least SPF30 when outside. Sunscreen protects your lips while the cold sore heals and may help prevent future breakouts as UV light is a cold sore trigger for many people.ii
Check whether or not you need to buy more Abreva® so youre prepared for the next tingle.
Start of the Cold Sore Healing Stage
Cold Sore Stage 4 The Scabbing Stage :
According to Elaine C. Jong & Dennis L. Stevens , the ulcer dries up and becomes darker to form a scab. The scabbing will look yellow or brown. It often cracks and can bleed, so dont try to peel off the scab. Wait until it falls off naturally. Moisturizing the scab using emollients containing aloe vera or zinc oxide ointment may prevent itching to a great extent at this stage.
Replacement of the damaged cells begin. At this scabbing stage , you may continue feeling mild fever, headache, running nose and painful lymph nodes. These symptoms subside with the passage of each day.
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How Are Cold Sores Treated
Cold sores cant be cured, but, if symptoms are severe, treatment may help relieve some symptoms. Treatment may include:
Antiviral topical ointments
Antiviral oral medications
Over-the-counter topical anesthetics or anti-inflammatory agents may help with symptoms
Cold sores take about 1 to 3 weeks to heal. The first time they appear, they can take up to 3 weeks to heal. But, when cold sores return, they usually take a week to heal if no medicines are used. Antiviral medications may help, but they need to be started before day 3 or 4 of the blister formation. Antivirals are usually not recommended for otherwise healthy people. Always consult your health care provider or dentist if the sore does not heal or becomes worse as time passes.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Cold Sore
Symptoms can include:
A blister-like sore or cluster of sores. These often occur at the edge of the lips but may appear inside the mouth.
Skin redness around the sores.
Pain or itching in the area of the outbreak. Often the pain or itching develops 12 to 24 hours before the sore become visible.
Flu-like symptoms, including swollen glands, headache, body ache, or fever. These typically occur only at the time of the first infection.
Cold sores may also occur on fingers. They may rarely infect the eyes, a serious possible complication.
Some people have symptoms a day or two before an outbreak. They may feel tenderness, burning, itching, or tingling before a cold sore appears. Cold sores tend to come back in the same area that they first appeared.
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How Can You Prevent Cold Sores
To avoid being infected with HSV-1, you should take the following precautions around people who have cold sores:
- Avoid kissing, intimate contact and oral sex with someone who has a cold sore.
- Dont share towels, razors, dishes, cutlery, straws, lip balm or lipstick.
- Wash your hands before touching your lips, eyes or genitals.
If youve already come into contact with HSV-1, do these to reduce risk of a cold sore outbreak:
- Try to stay healthy: A fever can trigger a cold sore, which is why people sometimes call them fever blisters.
- Get enough rest: Fatigue weakens your immune system and makes you more likely to get sick.
Wear lip balm with SPF: Protecting your lips from sunburn can help you avoid an outbreak.
If you have a cold sore, be careful around babies. Always wash your hands, and do not kiss a baby until the cold sore has healed completely.
How Are Genital Herpes Diagnosed
Other STIs, like syphilis, cause similar symptoms. In addition to a physical exam, your healthcare provider will take a fluid sample from the blisters to test for the herpes virus. If your blisters are healed or you dont have blisters, a blood test can check for HSV-2 antibody, a marker that shows you have been exposed to the virus.
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What Does Genital Herpes Look Like When Its Healing
As your herpes outbreak comes to an end, your herpes sores will begin to crust over, scab like a small cut, and eventually go away. The sores can take a week or more to heal.
Your nurse or doctor can give you herpes medicine to help prevent or treat outbreaks, and there are ointments that can help make your sores heal faster and hurt less.
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Complications Of Cold Sores
Cold sores are usually mild, but may cause complications in rare cases. People with weak immune systems caused by illness or treatments such as chemotherapy are particularly at risk of complications.
Dehydration sometimes occurs if drinking fluids becomes painful. Young children are particularly at risk of becoming dehydrated.
The herpes simplex virus can also spread to other parts of your body. Examples of when this can occur include:
- skin infections these often occur if the virus comes into contact with broken skin, such as a cut or graze, or a skin condition such as eczema
- herpetic whitlow this causes painful sores and blisters to appear on and around your fingers
- herpetic keratoconjunctivitis this causes swelling and irritation of your eye area and sores to develop on your eyelids
Left untreated, herpetic keratoconjunctivitis can cause the cornea, the transparent layer at the front of your eye, to become infected, which can eventually lead to blindness.
It’s therefore important not to touch your eyes if you have an unhealed cold sore. If you must touch your eyes for example, to remove contact lenses wash your hands thoroughly first.
In very rare cases, encephalitis, a condition where the brain becomes inflamed and swollen, can be caused by the cold sore virus spreading to the brain. It can be treated with intravenous injections of antiviral medications, such as aciclovir.
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What To Expect On This Page
We summarize in this article how to recognize genital herpes and why itÃ¢s important to talk to your doctor if youÃ¢re worried you may have it.
The most common symptom of herpes is skin lesions. These lesions can be confused with similar-looking lesions caused by a number of other conditions.
Using photographs to help you see what weÃ¢re saying, we describe herpes lesions and compare and contrast them with the lesions caused by these diseases:
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Cold Sore Stage 3 The Weeping Stage :
Cold sores can burst open and the fluid filled in oozes out causing infection at a new site or spreads the infection to a person who comes in contact. Incidentally, fever blisters are most contagious during this time.
This can be the most painful and contagious state of a cold sore outbreak. Open sores will be red and shallow. In this weeping stage , the immune system starts working on the site and thus theres an inflammation response .
As said earlier, dont try to pick at the sores. The sore transforms into an ulceration. In order to prevent the virus from spreading, wash the cold sore with mild soap and water.
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Questions To Ask A Doctor
A person with kidney issues or kidney failure should ensure their doctor is aware of their situation. People with these conditions may want to ask about possible alternatives to the medication.
People who are pregnant, may become pregnant, or are breastfeeding should ask their doctor about any possible risk associated with taking Valtrex.
People living with a suppressed immune system should ask their doctor about other options.
A person should discuss any possible issues with the current medications or supplements they are taking with their doctor.
Feel free to ask the doctor about doses, how to use the medication, and whether the doctor has any special instructions.
Treatment If The Blisters Come Back
Go to a GP or sexual health clinic if you have been diagnosed with genital herpes and need treatment for an outbreak.
Antiviral medicine may help shorten an outbreak by 1 or 2 days if you start taking it as soon as symptoms appear.
But outbreaks usually settle by themselves, so you may not need treatment.
Recurrent outbreaks are usually milder than the first episode of genital herpes.
Over time, outbreaks tend to happen less often and be less severe. Some people never have outbreaks.
Some people who have more than 6 outbreaks in a year may benefit from taking antiviral medicine for 6 to 12 months.
If you still have outbreaks of genital herpes during this time, you may be referred to a specialist.
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What Are The Signs Of Herpes In Children
The herpes virus can be spread to babies and children if they are kissed by someone that is infected and has active cold sores. Although rare, it is also possible to spread herpes to a child or infant by touch if a person touches their cold sore and then touches the baby or child.
Precautions can be taken to protect infants and other children from getting the virus. Avoid kissing children if you have a cold sore and ask other people not to as well. Wash your hands frequently if you have a cold sore and you are around children.
What Are The Possible Complications Of A Cold Sore
Cold sores usually go away by themselves within 2 weeks. For most people cold sores are not serious. The viruses that cause cold sores can cause more serious illness, though. People who have a weak immune system may get more serious infections from herpes viruses. These include people being treated for cancer or who have HIV disease. Babies may also become very ill from a herpes infection.
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Can Herpes Go Away Forever
While the signs and symptoms associated with both types of herpes can come and go, the virus stays in the body and there is no cure.
With that said, the treatments available can help herpes outbreaks become shorter and less frequent. There are also medications available that can lower the risk of spreading the infection to others.
One of the best ways to reduce your risk of contracting an STD is with regular screening. This can be done by taking a trip to your doctors office or from the comfort of your own home with an at-home lab test.
LetsGetCheckeds at-home Herpes Test can detect herpes simplex antibodies for either HSV-1 or HSV-2. Online results will be available within 5 days and our dedicated medical team will be there to offer a helping hand should you have any questions.
You should consider taking the test if:
- You become sexually active
- You have had unprotected sex
- You are experiencing symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection
- You are entering into a new sexual relationship
- You have received a notification from a previous partner that they are infected
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How Soon Can You Be Tested
The incubation period for herpes is 2 to 12 days, which means that the best time to get tested for the herpes virus if you havent had an initial outbreak is after 12 days. If youre worried that youve been exposed to herpes but have not yet been diagnosed, here are some steps you can take:
- If youre currently sexually active, stop all sexual activity until you can receive a formal diagnosis.
- Reach out to your doctor and schedule an appointment for once the incubation period is up.
- If youre having an outbreak, you dont have to wait to get tested. Its possible to receive a diagnosis based on the lesions.
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The Differences Between Hsv
Weâll discuss two main strains of the herpes virus that affect humans: herpes simplex virus type 1 and herpes simplex virus type 2 .
While both forms of the virus belong to the herpes family and have certain similarities, they also have a few key differences that are important to understand.
The biggest difference between the two herpes viruses is the location where they most often cause outbreaks. HSV-2 commonly causes genital sores, while HSV-1 more commonly causes cold sores around the mouth.
Both herpes viruses spread through close contact with an infected person, especially if theyâre experiencing an active outbreak. HSV-1 spreads mostly through activities like kissing, sharing a cup or straw, or sharing lip balm or lipstick. HSV-2, on the other hand, is classified as a sexually transmitted infection and spreads primarily through sexual contact.
There is no cure for herpes, so both strains of the virus are lifelong diseases. Outbreaks of both types also share certain triggers, such as lack of sleep, stress, poor diet, hormonal changes, menstruation and illness.
Other triggers differ between the two types of herpes. For example, chewing on the lips, harsh sunlight, or injury around the mouth can irritate the mouth and cause an oral herpes outbreak.
Similarly, irritation to the genitals caused by frequent sexual activity, irritating products, or tight clothing can trigger a genital herpes outbreak.