Cold sores (herpes labialis) is triggered by the herpes simplex virus and is caused by itchy or burning sores in the area of the lips noticeable. We provide information about the causes, symptoms and treatment of the infection and tell you which medications and home remedies work best against herpes.
causes: How does herpes develop?
The causative agent for herpes is the herpes simplex virus (HSV), which occurs in eight different ways. For infections in the face, such as lip or ocular herpes, virus type 1 is mostly responsible, while HSV-2 predominantly genital herpes triggers.
Once you have the herpes virus in your body, you will never get rid of it. (Source: Thinkstock by Getty-Images)
Almost 90 percent of the people carry the virus. The transmission takes place through a droplet or smear infection and often takes place in childhood. In most cases, the viruses enter the body through direct contact with infected saliva, for example when kissing, but also through the air we breathe to cough or sneeze. The herpes virus then travels through nerve tracts to a nerve node in the brain that lies directly above the ear – the so-called trigeminal nerve.
The initial infection usually goes unnoticed. However, the virus can become active at any time – which is the case in around a third of those affected. Whether and when an outbreak occurs depends on various factors. Usually a weak one plays immune system the crucial role. The main triggers for herpes are:
Many patients also report that they are with them Herpes from disgust forms. When the herpes simplex virus becomes active, it travels through the nerve pathways to the source of the primary infection. If the lip is affected, one speaks of herpes labialis. As a result of the rapid multiplication of the viruses, the highly contagious vesicles form, which itch and burn. These are usually only visible two to three days after the viruses have started to march back.
symptoms: How does cold sore express itself?
If the virus becomes active, the following symptoms usually appear:
- Tingling, itching and tension in the area of the lips
- Redness of the skin
- Formation of painful cold sores in the area of the lips, nose or eyes
- Crust formation as a result of burst bubbles
Many patients also have problems eating, drinking and brushing their teeth if the lips are affected. If there are minor injuries to the affected area, this can delay healing.
therapy: What helps against herpes on the mouth?
To the doctor You usually don’t have to go for herpes on the mouth. Be in the pharmacy Ointments and creams with antiviral agents offered, including acyclovir or penciclovir. They help the blisters heal. Transparent plasters that are glued to the blisters are almost invisible. They usually contain pain relievers, for example hydrocolloid-075. The advantage of the plasters: since the blisters are covered, the risk of infection is also reduced.
home remedies for cold sores
There are also proven home remedies that can be used to accompany medical preparations:
- zinc ointment: Zinc dries out the blisters and accelerates wound healing.
- honey: Honey kills viruses and bacteria and reduces their spread. Should be particularly effective Manuka honey his.
- Tea tree oil: Tea tree oil has an antibacterial and disinfecting effect.
- melissa extract: As a drop or in Cold sore creams lemon balm kills viruses and reduces redness and swelling.
- Garlic: The white tuber has an antiseptic effect, but should only be used at an early stage when there are no blisters.
- Coconut oil: the lauric acid it contains kills viruses. In addition, coconut oil soothes the skin and accelerates healing.
The medicines and home remedies mentioned work best if they are applied to the affected areas regularly with a cotton swab from the first tingling sensation, preferably every two hours. Under no circumstances should you pierce the vesicles or express, because it releases the fluid that contains innumerable herpes viruses. Herpes is highly contagious from the first feeling of tension. Spreading is further promoted by contact with the hands. Regular and thorough hand washing also helps prevent the virus from spreading.
Duration of infection: When to the doctor?
If left untreated, the blisters usually clear up after seven to ten days without scarring. However, if the infection does not improve after five days or if it occurs more than six times a year, a visit to the doctor is necessary. This is also advisable if the blisters spread over the face, cause severe pain, or if the patient has diabetes and cancer. In case of severe infestation, cortisone preparations can be used or active ingredients such as acyclovir can be taken in the form of tablets.
Prevent cold sores: Strengthen your immune system
None of the agents mentioned can completely banish the virus from the body, because the organism cannot destroy the virus completely. Before the immune system has brought the infection under control, the pathogens withdraw into the nerve cells and can lead to a new outbreak at any time. Most of them get mouth sores two or three times in their lifetime. For some, the blisters also appear two to three times a year. In extreme cases, there can be an outbreak every month. Still others are infected with the virus, but never suffer from herpes.
To lower the risk of a herpes outbreak, it makes sense to do that To strengthen the immune system – For example, through a healthy diet, lots of exercise or a sauna session. To prevent it, it is also helpful to pay attention to a high UV protection, to avoid stress and to sleep well.
If there has already been an outbreak, it is important that you carry off a cold sore by following some simple hygiene rules avoid:
- Wash and disinfect your hands regularly!
- Do not touch your lips with your fingers to avoid transferring them to other areas, such as the eyes.
- Avoid kissing and oral sex for cold sores and sexual intercourse for genital herpes during the infection.
- Make sure that no one else is using your used towels, glasses or cosmetic products such as lipsticks and lip balm.
- After healing, towels and bed linen should be washed and toothbrushes and cosmetic products replaced.
- Special care is required when dealing with babies and toddlers, as their immune systems are still very weak. Avoid skin contact and use a face mask for safety.
- If you wear contact lenses, you should wash and disinfect your hands thoroughly before inserting them to avoid spreading them into the eyes.
Important NOTE: The information is by no means a substitute for professional advice or treatment by trained and recognized doctors. The content of t-online.de cannot and must not be used to independently diagnose or start treatment.