UNDERSTANDING COLD SORES

Find answers to frequently asked questions about Abreva® Cream, cold sore treatment instructions, and much more.

  • DO REMEDIES FOR COLD SORES WORK?

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    There are plenty of home remedies for cold sores, often recommended by friends or websites. Lemon juice for instance, is meant to help, but the only thing it may do is fight off bacteria. Same thing with alcohol, witch hazel, vanilla extract or tea tree oil. There are other myths out there, too, like tea bags or ice. They may provide short-term relief, but won’t do much else. Lysine-based products, like yogurt, are supposed to reduce the progression of the virus, but there is no solid evidence to support it. Petroleum jelly can soothe dry skin but that’s about it. When it comes to cold sores, you’re better off trusting proper remedies like Abreva®.

  • WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO GET RID OF A COLD SORE?

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    Cold sores are a pain, and there’s not much you can do to prevent an outbreak apart from knowing your triggers. Unfortunately, there is no cure for cold sores, but you can shorten the healing time by using an effective treatment, like Abreva® cold sore cream. Unlike some other products, it fights the virus itself and is clinically proven to help shorten healing time. So, you could heal your cold sore in as little as 2½* days when used at the first sign. For special savings on Abreva® Cream, or a list of online retailers, visit our where to buy page.

    *Median healing time 4.1 days. 25% of users healed in 2.5 days. Use as directed at first sign of cold sore.

  • HOW DO I KNOW IF IT’S A COLD SORE OR A PIMPLE?

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    A pimple can appear anywhere on your face and lips, typically with a white or blackhead. It can be painful to the touch, but the sensation is not the same as a cold sore. Cold sores have a very distinctive itchy, burning, or tingling sensation when they appear. They show up in one area each time and mainly on the lips, not on the face. Also, they don’t look the same. Cold sores don’t have whiteheads. Instead, they form liquid-filled blisters. So, if you’re not sure, look for these symptoms and ask a pharmacist. If you have a cold sore, use Abreva® cold sore cream, which is clinically proven to shorten healing time.

  • CAN I DATE WITH A COLD SORE?

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    Absolutely. But there are a few precautions to keep in mind. Be honest. Let your partner know about your condition. Try not to touch the cold sore. If you do, wash your hands right after. If you have a cold sore, avoid kissing and oral sex until the infection has healed completely. Don't share anything that has come into contact with your cold sore—it could spread the virus. Precaution begins with the tingle, as that’s when it starts being contagious. Protect your kids. They can get the virus too, so avoid kisses and hugs. And avoid your triggers, like stress, a cold, sunlight, or hormonal changes, among others.

  • WHAT IS ORAL HERPES?

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    Nearly 67% of the world’s population under 50 has the HSV-1 virus, which causes cold sores. A cold sore usually starts with a tingling sensation on or around the lips, before blisters develop. It’s also very contagious and once someone is infected, they have it for life. The good news is most never suffer from the symptoms. And only 1 in 3 will have regular outbreaks. If you get a cold sore, use Abreva® at the first sign and you could heal your cold sore in 2½ days.*  For special savings on Abreva® Cream, or a list of online retailers, please visit our where to buy page.

    *Median healing time 4.1 days. 25% of users healed in 2.5 days. Use as directed at first sign of cold sore.

  • WHAT CAUSES A COLD SORE?

    FAQ Video FAQ Video

    Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus one (HSV-1). The HSV-1 virus can spread through skin-to-skin contact, like kissing. It sneaks into the body through a mucous membrane or damaged skin, and can stay dormant inside the body until certain triggers can awaken it, leading to an outbreak. The most common triggers are fatigue, stress, fever, a cold or the flu. To shorten healing time, you can use Abreva® cold sore cream—it starts to work immediately* to block the virus so you could heal your cold sore in 2½** days when used at the first sign.

    *Based on laboratory data
    **Median healing time 4.1 days. 25% of users healed in 2.5 days. Use as directed at first sign of cold sore.

  • WHAT ARE THE STAGES OF A COLD SORE?

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    It starts with the tingle stage. That itchy, burning sensation as the infected area becomes red and swollen. Then starts the blister stage. You’ll probably notice a group of small, fluid-filled lumps that may multiply and grow. Then comes the ulcer stage, which can be painful as the blisters burst and ulcers develop. The scabbing stage is when your cold sore dries out and forms a scab. It’s important to let the scab fall of naturally—if you peel it off, it may leave a scar. And last is the healing stage. As your scab comes off, you may notice some flaking and slightly red or pink skin before it fully heals.

  • WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF HERPES?

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    First, there’s herpes simplex virus one, which causes cold sores. In rare cases, it may also cause genital herpes. It spreads through contact with a person’s saliva or genital secretion. Second, there’s herpes simplex virus two, which causes genital herpes, an STD. It’s usually transmitted through genital secretion and sometimes through saliva. Lastly, there’s herpes simplex virus three, also called varicella-zoster virus, which causes chicken pox. Most people only get it once, but when the virus reactivates, it can lead to a more severe disease called shingles. Like HSV-1 and HSV-2, it’s transmitted through direct contact with saliva or genital secretion.