How to Treat Herpes of the Lips & Mouth
Herpes of the lips and mouth is commonly caused by HSV-1, but either of the two herpes simplex strains, HSV-1 or HSV-2, can lead to an oral infection. Individuals with an oral herpes infection may experience recurrent outbreaks of cold sores on the lips, gums or inside of the mouth, which begin as fluid-filled blisters and rupture to create painful open sores. Only 10 percent of infected people develop symptoms and the virus can also shed during times when a cold sore doesn't form, so it is possible to catch the disease from someone who doesn't have visible signs of an infection.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Take a prescription antiviral such as acyclovir, famciclovir or valacyclovir when you notice prodrome symptoms or the beginnings of a cold sore blister. Prodrome symptoms may include tingling, soreness, burning, itching or simply an odd sensation in the mouth that occurs just before a blister develops, and not every herpes sufferer experiences prodrome. Taking medication as early as possible can shorten the length of the outbreak, make it less severe and may even stop it before blisters form.
Apply ice to the area as soon as you notice an outbreak beginning. Ice can help reduce the swelling and relieve some of the pain from the herpes sores.
Take an OTC pain reliever to ease the pain of blisters or sores on the lips or mouth. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are good choices for quick and effective pain relief.
Use a topical anesthetic prescribed by your doctor. These are available in mouthwash or topical ointment form and work to numb the area, although they do not heal the sores themselves.
Try using propolis, a natural product created by bees, as an alternative health option for treating herpes sores of the mouth and lips. According to Medline Plus, preliminary studies have shown that propolis has promise as a supplement to fight herpes, but more studies are necessary. Consult a doctor familiar with natural health remedies to determine a proper dosage and application if you want to try propolis.
Ask your doctor about using antiviral medication on a daily basis, called suppressive therapy, to prevent or reduce future outbreaks.
Since exposure to heat, cold and extreme weather conditions can trigger an outbreak of oral herpes, wearing lip balm with SPF and protecting the lips and mouth when spending time outdoors can help prevent a recurrence.
When traveling, don't forget to pack prescription medication for herpes, even if you haven't had an outbreak in months or years. The stress of travel may induce a recurrence and it may be difficult to get a new prescription while on the road.
- lips image by Alex Motrenko from Fotolia.com