Treat Cold Sores
Order a prescription to treat cold sores
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus and they can be treated with antiviral medication.
Aciclovir tablets help heal the sores faster and are particularly effective when taken as soon as the first symptoms appear.
Aciclovir is also prescribed as a suppression treatment for people who encounter frequently recurring bouts of oral herpes.
Order a prescription for treatment online - our service is fast and convenient. To place your order, fill in our brief medical questionnaire. Our doctor will review your order and approve a prescription for an appropriate treatment.
You can use your prescription to buy your medication at any pharmacy in Ireland.
How to use Superdrug Online Doctor
About Cold Sores
What Are Cold Sores?
Cold sores are blisters which occur around the mouth and on the lips. They are caused by two types of the herpes virus which also cause genital herpes (herpes simplex 1 & 2). Infection with the herpes simplex virus is extremely common and it is assumed that most adults carry it. In fact, it is estimated that 90% of the population worldwide carry one of the two types of herpes simplex.
Most people who suffer from cold sores experience the first one during their childhood, often transmitted by close contact with family or friends with the virus, or by kissing in the teenage years. The herpes virus cannot be cured but this does not mean that you will forever be dealing with herpes symptoms - it just means that the virus remains inactive in your body and that it may cause outbreaks in the future. Most patients who suffer from recurring bouts notice that there are certain triggers which bring the symptoms back.
What do cold sores look like?
Cold sores develop in different stages:
- First you may notice a tingling sensation in the area where the blisters will appear
- Next you will notice a blister forming
- The blister will begin to fill with fluid as you body fights the infection
- Eventually, the blisters will break open and turn into ulcers, which can be very painful
- After they have opened up, the ulcers form scabs and heal within the next few days
Normally, your cold sores will heal within one to two weeks.
How can I get rid of them quickly?
There are a number of over-the-counter medications you can use to treat your cold sores. Pharmacies sell antiviral creams which contain aciclovir. These creams help your body fight the virus and make your sores heal faster. You can also buy a local anaesthetic cream and over-the-counter painkillers to reduce the pain and inflammation.
Cold sore triggers
Cold sores tend to come back when your immune system is weakened. Looking after your health will help you avoid recurrent bouts. Everyone is different and you will need to observe your symptoms to identify the herpes triggers which affect you. Common trigger for cold sores include:
- an infection (for example a cold or the flu)
- emotional and physical stress
- having a high fever
- being tired or exhausted
- injury to the lips or mouth
- hormonal changes (including menstruation in women)
- exposure to sunlight
Once you have figured out what your cold sore triggers are you will find it easier to avoid outbreaks.
Don't Spread the Virus
During the time you have cold sores, you are highly contagious. Although cold sores are not dangerous, the infection can cause complications in people with weakened immune systems. This includes babies and small children, patients with HIV and people who are undergoing cancer treatment. You should take care not to spread the virus and make sure that nobody comes into contact with the fluid from your blisters.
Follow these simple rules:
1. Don’t touch your sores!
If you need to apply cream to your sores, dab it on gently and wash your hands before and afterwards. Washing your hands will protect other people from catching the virus and it will protect you from transferring it to your eyes or genitals, where it can also cause symptoms.
2. Don’t share your medication with anyone.
Sharing your cream with someone else means that you will most likely infect each other. The same goes for lipsticks, cutlery, cups or food.
3. Avoid kissing and oral sex.
The virus which causes cold sores can be transmitted when kissing and if you give your partner oral sex. When it is transmitted during oral sex, it causes genital herpes, which can include painful blisters on your partner's genitals.
Common side effects from Aciclovir can include:
- Feeling sick
- Stomach pain
- Skin rashes or itching
Cold sore healing can also be improved with hydrocolloid dressings (Compeed invisible cold sore patches) available in most pharmacies. Local anaesthetic creams applied to the blisters and oral painkillers such as paracetamol can ease any discomfort of the blisters.
Without treatment, cold sores usually heal within 7 - 10 days.