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Dr. Judy Sturm & Associates is a place of comfort, care, and friendliness.  We look forward to welcoming you to our Dental Family.

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Dr. Judy Sturm & Associates


Your Midtown Dentist’s “Cold Sore Survival Guide”

It’s cold sore season. The cold, dry winter months in this city, combined with fatigue and flu season, create the perfect atmosphere for outbreaks. While laser cold sore removal has become the popular solution in Toronto, it is still useful to know how to better manage, prevent, and avoid getting cold sores. As your midtown dentist, we have some helpful tips in this blog.

The complete Cold Sore Survival Guide

Cold sores always seem to pop up at the most inopportune times. With an estimated 50-80% of the population already affected by the condition, you are far from alone.

Fortunately, there are effective treatment options that can help you get rid of the unsightly sore before an important meeting, family get-together, or date. The most effective cold sore treatment is offered by cosmetic dentists*, but over-the-counter treatments are also available.

Are cold sores contagious?

Yes, cold sores are highly contagious. Cold sores are caused by a strain of herpes (HSV). The virus is most contagious when open sores are present on the lips. However, you can still contract herpes from someone with no visible symptoms through sharing utensils, towels, kissing, or any other contact with materials that may harbour the virus.

How to get rid of cold sores

You can get rid of cold sores through the following methods:

  • laser cold sore removal
  • topical treatment
  • antiviral medicines.

Some cold sore home remedies have been suggested as well, although their efficacy is not proven. This includes applying balms to cold sores made with:

  • whole milk
  • peppermint oil
  • echinacea
  • lemon
  • zinc
  • garlic
  • tea tree oil
  • honey.

The treatments listed above will help get rid of cold sores faster but won’t prevent them from popping up in the future. Once the HSV virus is in your body, there is no known way to remove it.

How long do cold sores last?

In most cases, cold sores last 8-12 days. Untreated, cold sores may last as long as four weeks. See a doctor if your cold sore lasts longer than two weeks without showing signs of improvement. Professional treatment can dramatically reduce the time you have to suffer with cold sores.

You can expedite the healing of a cold sore by treating it with laser cold sore removal treatment or an over-the-counter cream. The sooner you take action after noticing the first symptoms, the better the treatment will be at shortening the length of the cold sore.

How does herpes spread?

Oral herpes commonly spreads through direct or indirect contact. Here are some common examples:

  • Kissing, or any transfer of fluids from one person’s mouth to another.
  • Sharing food or drinks with someone who has the virus.
  • Sharing eating utensils with someone who has the virus.
  • Sharing personal hygiene products like a towel or toothbrush with a person affected by the virus.

Herpes spreads when the cold sore or something carrying the object comes into contact with another person. Minimizing contact with strangers minimizes your chances of contracting the virus.

If you plan to share eating utensils or kiss someone, you can politely ask if they have the virus beforehand to mitigate the risk of contracting it.

How can you tell if you have a cold sore?

You can tell you have a cold sore if you display any of the following symptoms appearing in the order listed below:

  • Tingling section of your lip.
  • Itching of a section of your lip.
  • Blisters forming on your lip.
  • Pus oozing from a section of your lip.
  • Crusting pus on the affected part of your lip.
  • Scab forming on your lip.

The symptoms of a cold sore vary depending on how developed it is. The first sign that a cold sore is coming on is a tingling sensation in a section of your lip. You will feel the tingling sensation in the area where the cold sore will appear, and the tingling sensation is often followed by itching. Affected areas will feel tender before any visible symptoms appear. These symptoms will come on about a day before visual symptoms appear on the surface of the lip.

Stages of a cold sore

Blisters follow the tingling sensation approximately one day after the first signs of a cold sore emerge. Blisters break out along the outer lip, are puffy, red, and contain liquid.

In the final stage of the cold sore, the blisters burst and begin oozing liquid. Blisters typically merge and become a single, large uncomfortable open sore. After the pus runs out of the sore and it has had time to heal, it crusts over to form into a single large scab.

Symptoms of cold sores vary between individuals and individual cases. If left untreated, a cold sore takes 2-4 weeks to heal completely to the point when no visible evidence of its presence remains.

A cold sore will clear up on its own, even if untreated. However, visiting a cosmetic dentist* in Toronto or getting cold sore removal treatment can greatly expedite the time it takes for a cold sore to heal.

What causes cold sores

Cold sores are caused by:

  • viral infection
  • fever
  • other illnesses
  • abnormal stress levels
  • fatigue
  • exposure to more sunlight and wind
  • a weakened immune system.

The root cause of cold sores – the herpes virus – only needs to be contracted once for you to be at risk of cold sore breakouts for life. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize your outbreak of cold sores. Generally speaking, staying healthy and well-rested will lower your chance of having a herpes outbreak.

How to prevent getting cold sores

You can help prevent getting cold sores by:

  • Keeping yourself healthy.
  • Avoiding stressful situations.
  • Avoiding extensive exposure to strong direct sunlight and/or wind.
  • Not sharing food/drink, utensils, or personal items.

All it takes to get a cold sore is to contract the strain of herpes, which causes it. Once this strain is in your body, you’re stuck with it forever since there is no known way of removing it. The virus lies dormant in your nerve cells and manifests as a cold sore when your immune system is weakened through stress or illness.

Keep yourself healthy to minimize herpes outbreaks. Get plenty of rest, exercise, and eat right every day. Create healthy habits and stick to them.

Your body is most vulnerable to a herpes outbreak when the immune system is weakened, fighting off other bacteria or viruses. This is why winter, cold and flu season, becomes cold sore season.

Laser cold sore removal from your midtown dentist

Contact Dr. Judy Sturm & Associates for laser cold sore removal in Toronto. Using our specialized diode laser, we can reduce the time you have to suffer with a cold sore.

Give us a call or fill out the form on our website to book an appointment today.

Dr. Judy Sturm, your cosmetic dentist* in Toronto

* In Canada, Cosmetic Dentist in Toronto and Cosmetic Dentistry in Toronto are not designated dental specialties.