Mouth sores — particularly, cold sores — afflict millions of people. Don’t let them get you down: Learn how to prevent, treat and conceal your next mouth sore outbreak.
Cold sores, also called fever blisters, are downright embarrassing. These unsightly eruptions occur on the lips and surrounding areas and can take up to two weeks to heal.
You can usually tell the cold sore is coming days before it arrives. You may notice:
- Pain or tingling on the skin, typically around the mouth
- Small, painful, fluid-filled blisters that erupt a day or two after the pain/tingling begins
- Breaking and oozing of blisters, followed by a yellow crust
- Sloughing off of crust
Usually, a cold sore lasts 10 to 14 days and heals without scarring.
Strains of the herpes virus cause cold sores, and any number of triggers can cause an outbreak:
- Sun exposure
- Illness or injury
Irritation from dental work can lead to an outbreak, too. So can certain foods, such as nuts, chocolate, sugar and carbonated drinks.
You can’t prevent cold sores entirely, nor can you cure them — but you can take steps to reduce their frequency and limit their duration, says Dr. Paul Ganshert, PRC CTS BS DDS:
- Get adequate sleep.
- Take a daily vitamin.
- Manage your stress.
- Avoid the sun or use sunscreen.
- Avoid acidic foods and juices.
Cold sores clear up on their own without treatment. They can last for up to two weeks, though, so you’ll want some relief from the discomfort. Try:
- Over-the-counter ointments that contain benzocaine
- Pain relievers such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen and aspirin
- Ice or warm compresses
And hands off! Avoid squeezing or picking cold sore blisters — and if your hands have touched your cold sores, avoid touching other parts of your body (and other people).
A cold sore doesn’t have to send you into hiding. You can conceal the blister while healing it with powerful combo treatments. Products such as Orajel Cold Sore Relief With Concealer relieve pain and speed healing while concealing the cold sore. The Orajel formula camouflages the redness with a green-tinted concealer.