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Cold sores treatment, diagnosis & prescriptions

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Can I talk to a doctor on Maple about my cold sore?

Yes, you can. The healthcare practitioner will want to discuss the symptoms and signs of cold sores that you’re experiencing and your medical history. They’ll also want to perform a physical exam to evaluate any lesions that have developed.

Once you have a diagnosis for your cold sores, the healthcare provider can suggest cold sore treatments at home, to help manage outbreaks.

Can I get a prescription on Maple?

Yes, our physicians can prescribe cold sore medications online during your consultation. Once you accept a prescription for cold sores, you’ll have the option to pick it up from any pharmacy or to have it delivered right to your door at no additional cost.

You can visit our How it Works page to learn more.

What are cold sores?

Cold sores, also sometimes called fever blisters or herpes labialis, are groups of lesions located on the lips and around the mouth. Cold sores are usually caused by an infection of Herpes simplex virus type 1.

At this time, there is no cure for cold sores. Often, this is a chronic condition, where the virus remains inactive between outbreaks and periodic recurrences. However, some people may experience a single outbreak, and then never have a recurrence of cold sores.

Cold sores are extremely contagious. In addition to being very uncomfortable or painful, they can have a negative effect on your quality of life and self-image.

It’s also possible for oral herpes lesions to spread to the genitals through oral sex.

What are the symptoms of cold sores?

After initial transmission of the herpes simplex virus, you may experience symptoms similar to that of a flu, in addition to the telltale cold sore lesions.

These symptoms can appear between two and twenty days after exposure to the herpes simplex virus.

Some symptoms and signs of cold sores you may experience can include:

  • Lip swelling
  • Tenderness on or around the lips
  • Burning, itching, or tingling on the lips or around the mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Painful gums
  • Mouth or tongue pain
  • Groups of lesions appearing on the tongue, mouth, cheek, chin, or inside the nostrils
  • Lesions that leak clear fluid, and then crust over
  • Sore throat
  • Low-grade fever

Symptoms and signs of cold sores often appear in stages. 85% of patients had reported having prodromes of a burning/tingling sensation 24 hours before a painful lesion appeared. Symptoms worsen until the final oozing and crusting stages. In some cases, cold sores can be very painful and cause severe discomfort.

What causes cold sores?

Cold sores are normally caused by Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). Gential herpes is usually caused by Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). However, it’s possible for either form to spread to the alternate location through close contact transmission (e.g., oral sex, kissing, etc.).

Triggers for recurrent cold sores include:

  • Immune deficiency
  • Stress
  • Sun exposure
  • Fever
  • Trauma to the trigeminal nerve or certain dental procedures

Cold sores are extremely contagious, especially when they are oozing fluid. Direct contact with this fluid can dramatically increase the chances of causing cold sores to spread to another person. The virus is still able to be spread even when lesions aren’t leaking and when there is no lesion at all.

How are cold sores diagnosed?

In most cases, a healthcare practitioner will be able to offer a diagnosis for cold sores by evaluating your symptoms and medical history. They’ll also want to perform a physical exam to check for signs of cold sores.

If you’ve had cold sores before, your healthcare provider may be able to identify cold sore symptoms based on your existing history of the condition.

Once the healthcare practitioner provides a clear diagnosis for cold sores, they can suggest cold sore treatments based on the severity of your outbreak. This includes any prescription cold sore medications that may be necessary to ease your symptoms and speed your recovery.

How are cold sores treated?

The most frequent cold sore treatments are either an oral or a topical antiviral prescription cold sore medication, or a combination of both.

Frequency of recurrent cold sores differ in every person. Some people can get them once a month whereas others may get them twice per year. In cases where recurrences appear more than six times per year, the healthcare practitioner may suggest chronic suppressive therapy using oral antiviral agents. This will help ease cold sore symptoms such as pain, reduce viral shedding, and expedite the healing process.

Cold sore treatments should ideally start within the first 48 hours of lesions appearing in order to achieve the most efficient results.

When to see a doctor for cold sores?

If you’ve begun showing signs of cold sores, it’s a good idea to talk to a healthcare practitioner. Without precautions or treatments, it’s easy to transmit cold sores to others around you, especially those with whom you share close contact or sexual relationships.

Cold sore symptoms can be very painful, embarrassing, and may have a negative impact on your quality of life. Cold sores outbreaks will pass on their own, but that doesn’t mean you have to manage your symptoms without treatment.

A healthcare provider from Maple can suggest cold sore treatments that will ease your discomfort and speed your recovery. They can also provide prescription cold sore medications that may be necessary for managing severe symptoms.

What is Maple?

With Maple, you can start talking to a healthcare provider about your symptoms in a matter of minutes. We’re a healthcare app for fast, convenient 24/7 access to Canadian doctors.

Simply log in, tap a button to request a consultation, and we’ll immediately connect you to a doctor via live chat or video. Visit How it Works to learn more.

Our healthcare team can assess symptoms, and provide treatment, including prescriptions online as necessary.

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