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Cold sores are small blisters that appear around the edge of your mouth.

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Many of us will have been affected by this problem and will know all too well the embarrassment and anxiety they can cause.

If you’d like help getting rid of your cold sores, our doctors can take a look at the problem and prescribe effective medication at the push of a button.

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Young guy with a cold sore
A woman with a cold sore

Symptoms of a Cold Sore

Cold sores tend to announce their arrival with a tingling sensation around your lip. This is the only real ‘symptom’ of a cold sore beyond the blisters themselves.

Once the tingling starts, there’s nothing you can do to prevent the cold sore appearing. All you can do is take steps to make it go away as quickly as possible.

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What Causes Cold Sores?

Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus, which is passed on through human contact such as touching or kissing. The virus spends most of its time inactive, meaning it has no effect on you and it’s difficult to know that you have it. Many people who have herpes never experience cold sores.

However, when it flares up, this is when cold sores appear. There are many possible triggers for this and they’re different for everyone. Common factors include:

  • Stress
  • Tiredness
  • Periods
  • Sunshine

It’s also possible to get cold sores after having oral sex with someone who has genital herpes, but this is a different strain of the herpes virus.

Cold sore caused by herpes
Cold sores will eventually go away

Treating Cold Sores

Most cold sores will clear up on their own in around 10 days. However, that can feel like a long time, and if you have an important event coming up, such as a wedding or job interview, you might not want to wait.

Antiviral creams can help speed up the process. These need to be applied as soon as the tingling starts - they won’t be as effective once the cold sore has arrived. They should be applied lightly to your skin, rather than rubbed in.

If you need to get antiviral medicine fast, if your cold sores are larger or greater in number than normal, or if they’ve spread away from your lip, our doctors will be able to write a prescription straight away and send it to you via email. You’ll then be able to collect your medicine from a pharmacy of your choice.

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