Cold sores usually clear up without treatment. In the meantime, the following steps may provide relief:
Topical ointments: lidocaine, or benzocaine (Zilactin) can help ease discomfort. Benzocaine should not be used in children younger than 2 without a doctor's orders. For adults, never use more than the recommended dose.
Oral antiviral medications: these may modestly shorten the duration of cold sores and decrease pain, if started very early. They include: acyclovir (Zovirax), Famciclovir (Famvir), and Valacyclovir (Valtrex). These may also be prescribed to prevent a recurrence of cold sores if you have frequent bouts of them, experience significant related illness during an outbreak or have an identifiable trigger of cold sore recurrences--such as intense sunlight--and you anticipate exposure to that trigger. Over-the-counter pain relievers (aspirin, tylenol, advil) may also help. Applying ice or warm compresses to the blisters may ease the pain.
Most important: let it heal without squeezing, pinching or picking at any blister.
Robert G. Tupac, DDS, FACP, Inc., Diplomate, American Board of Prosthodontics (661) 325-1275 | www.drtupac.com 5060 California Ave., #170, Bakersfield, CA 93309