How to Treat a Fever Blister

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A fever blister refers to an infection of one of the herpes simplex viruses, and treatment of cold sores must start within the first 48 hours of illness. Discover medication that slows down and inhibits replication of the herpes virus with help from a pediatrician in this free video on fever blisters.

Part of the Video Series: Medical Conditions & Treatments
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Video Transcript

How I'm Dr. David Hill and today we are going to be talking about how to treat a fever blister. When we talk about fever blisters we really mean an infection with one of the herpes simplex viruses. Now why do I say one of? Well there are several different zero types of herpes simplex viruses. The one that gets everyone the most excited is the genital herpes virus. But then other seem to like the lips. And there is really no exclusivity. Sometimes the genital herpes viruses will occasionally may effect the lips. Sometimes the lip ones will become genital. So we talk about them as an entire group. But talking about a cold sore you are thinking about something that starts as a little bump. It grows into probably a blister. The blister pops and then you get an ulceration here on your lip. People who get them often get them over and over again. Once the herpes virus has infected you, it doesn't really go away. It just hides in the nerve root and springs out at every now and then to cause discomfort. We call them cold sores because anything that stresses you out and gets your immune system off kilter makes it a little easier for that herpes virus to crawl out there and give you a sore. So people do tend to get them more often when they are sick with some other illness or if they are fatigued or even have been running a marathon or anything else that might increase your cortisol levels and cause your immune system to be a little less strong then it would normally. The key to treating cold sores is to get the treatment started in the first forty eight hours of illness. If you wait beyond that it's really to late to mediate and at that point you are just going to have to wait for it to be over. The medication that has worked best against cold sores is acyclovir. This is known by the brand names of Zovirax. There is a similar medication called Valacyclovir that is pharmaceutically related to Zovirax or Acyclovir and what this medicine does is slow down and inhibit the replication of the herpes virus. Now Acyclovir can be given in a variety of ways. In the most extreme cases we actually use IV Acyclovir. We use that when the lesions are affecting the eyes. Usually this is the related virus that causes chicken pox, Varicella virus but it's in the same family with the herpes family. The herpes virus however, we usually treat with oral Acyclovir or Valacyclovir that can be given by mouth. Or there is even a topical form a cream or an ointment that can be used daily on the lesion to make it go away a little bit faster. Now it's never a miracle drug once you get the lesion you are going to see it there. But starting the drug early especially in the first twenty four hours you can often shorten the course of the illness. If you miss that window, you are just going to have to live with it. So talking about treating herpes cold sores on the lip. I'm Dr. David Hill.


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