Herpes Simplex Virus

There are certain illnesses that are discreet. Sure, they may be frustrating, impacting upon your day-to-day routines but they’re your business and no one else's. You can deal with it behind closed doors and share as much or as little with people in regards to it as you would like. Cold sores, unfortunately, are the absolute antithesis of that type of illness. There they are, right on your face, for all the world to see. Not that they are anything to be ashamed of but just like a pimple, they are an unwanted visitor on your face to deal with. Not the thing you want people’s attention to be drawn to when having a conversation. According to NSW Government Health, around 75 in every 100 Australian adults have been infected with HSV1 (Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1) and around 12 in 100 have the far less common HSV2 (Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2). Whilst many people who are infected with this virus that causes cold sores never actually develop signs and symptoms, those kinds of statistics reveal just how prevalent it can be and point towards the high need for treatment options for those unlucky ones who do present with signs and symptoms. 

If a cold sore has popped up for you, you might be wondering where it sprung from. Sadly, the virus that causes cold sores is highly contagious. The cold sore itself is a viral infection that presents as tiny fluid-filled blisters on or around the edge of the mouth. The blisters usually group together in patches, providing that often cylindrical shape. The cold sores are at their most contagious when the blisters are oozing because the virus easily spreads through any contact with infected body fluids. Having said that, the virus doesn’t need the blisters to be oozing to spread. Kissing is obviously the major hazard here but even just the sharing of your utensils or other objects that may come into contact with these fluids and then be shared, pose a risk. Both of the HSV viruses can also infect the genital area so oral sex poses a high risk if the virus is present. 

Cold sores typically run a pretty unpleasant course of stages:

Stage 1 – Tingling and itching

Usually cold sores will give you a little warning of their impending arrival in the form of some itching, burning and or tingling around the mouth. Many people become familiar with the sensation if they are recurring and can spot them coming on before the pain or blisters actually turn up. 

Stage 2 – Blisters

Next come the blisters. The little fluid-filled blisters typically erupt along the borders of the lips but can sometimes even turn up around the nose and inside the mouth. 

Stage 3 – Oozing and crusting

The little blisters often have a tendency to merge and then once they burst the very shallow open sores’ fluid then begins to crust over into a scab. 

Now, none of this is pleasant and the first time you experience an outbreak it is likely to be even less pleasant, as the experience is often accompanied by:

  • Fever
  • Painful gums
  • Sore throat 
  • Headache 
  • Muscle aches 
  • Swollen lymph nodes 

In some good news, if you do find yourself suffering from recurring cold sores the outbreaks tend to be less severe, despite still taking the typical two to three weeks to fully heal. The particularly bad news though is, if you are finding yourself suffering from recurring cold sores, there is no cure. So, other than avoiding coming in contact with the virus, what are the treatment options? 

There are a wide variety of cold sore creams that can be bought over the counter in Australia. These include:


Vectavir is a cold sore cream that is designed to be applied directly to the surface of the skin, on the problem area. It’s designed specifically for the treatment of recurring cold sores in adults and children aged 12 years and above. 

Zovirax Duo

Zovirax Duo is a cold sore cream designed to be applied at the first sign of a cold sore as it can reduce the progression of the cold sore by minimising the ulcerative lesions, which serves to minimise the healing time of the cold sores themselves. It is also suitable for immunocompetent adults and children aged 12 years and over.

Quantum Lip Clear

Quantum Health offers a few different cold sore products. Quantum Health Lip Clear Lysine and Cold Sore Treatment Ointment, as well as Quantum Lip Clear Lysine Plus Ointment. The ingredient referenced heavily in the name, lysine, is an essential amino acid, which promotes a healthy immune system. Thanks to its characteristics, lysine has the potential to significantly trim the healing time of your cold sore. 

Dynamiclear Rapid Cold Sore Treatment 

Dynamiclear offers swift pain relief, with an accelerated healing time of up to 48 hours, in some cases. It can be applied at any stage and helps to dry up the blisters faster. Another great benefit is that only one application is needed for an outbreak so you don’t need to keep reapplying throughout the healing process. 

Blistex Antiviral Cold Sore Cream

Blistex utilises the ingredient Aciclovir. Its antiviral properties prevent the virus from replicating. The major benefit of this is that it can significantly reduce the severity of an outbreak and hence provide a swifter recovery time, which is really what you are gunning for when it comes to cold sores. 

Virasolve Cold Sore Cream

Virasolve draws upon three main ingredients to fight against the virus. The first is Idoxuridine, which is an antiviral agent that if used early enough can actually prevent oncoming lesions. The second is Lignocaine hydrochloride, which is a local anesthetic, helping to provide relief to any pain or itching associated with the cold sore. The third is Benzalkonium, which helps to control bacterial infections once the cold sore blisters have broken. It can be applied at any stage of the cold sore. 

Whilst these are by no means the only cold sore creams on the market, they are all products that are available over the counter and that can help to significantly limit the discomfort associated with cold sores. More importantly, they can help to speed up the healing process on this pesky and sadly conspicuous illness.  


Image Sources by: Freepik 

Author: @photohobo


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