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About Cold sores

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Cold sores - also known as oral herpes or herpes labialis - are small fluid-filled blisters that appear on or around the lips. Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). This viral infection is spread through skin-to-skin contact (like a kiss) or through saliva.

The fever blisters that result from an HSV-1 infection will often occur in clusters in what’s called a cold sore outbreak. These small lesions will break open and leave a crusted-over scab on and around the lips. The healing time for these breaks is usually about 2-3 weeks.

Once you’ve been infected by the herpes simplex virus, you cannot get rid of it. The virus will stay dormant for weeks or months at a time and will only reappear during an outbreak or flare-up. Herpes infections are contagious even if sores aren’t present. Although cold sores cannot be cured, health care providers can provide treatment options to minimize symptoms and speed up healing time.

Cold Sore Symptoms

Most individuals experience the most severe symptoms during their first cold sore outbreak. Recurring flare-ups tend to be milder and quicker to heal. These outbreaks often occur in stages. These phases of an outbreak are detailed below.

First stage: You will often feel the first signs of an outbreak roughly 12-24 hours before lesions appear. These preliminary symptoms include an itching or tingling sensation on or around the lips.

Second stage: On the second day of an outbreak, blisters will begin to appear on or around the lips. These blisters are often red, swollen, and painful.

Third stage: After 2-3 days, these blisters will open up and ooze fluid. This discharge is often clear or slightly yellow in color. After this weeping phase, the fluid will crust over and leave a scabbed wound on or around the lips. As the sore heals, it may break open again and bleed.

Fourth stage: 1-2 weeks after you notice the first signs of an outbreak, the skin under the scabs will heal and the scabs will fall off. Cold sore outbreaks rarely - if ever - cause scarring. Recurring outbreaks commonly occur in the same parts of the mouth.

During the first outbreak, you may experience other symptoms such as:

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

These symptoms are common side effects of your immune system fighting off an infection. The reactions listed above rarely occur during subsequent outbreaks.

Cold Sore Triggers

The HSV-1 virus does not leave the body once it has infected you. The virus will lie dormant for weeks or months at a time and will appear during an outbreak. The cause of an outbreak varies from person to person, but common triggers of an outbreak include:

  • Hormone changes (usually occurring around menstruation)
  • Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Sunburn
  • Allergic reactions
  • Fever or illness
  • Injury to the skin (like cracked lips)

Outbreak Prevention

To help prevent and manage outbreaks, doctors often recommend the following:

  • Use lip balms and creams.
  • Use a zinc oxide cream or a sunscreen lip balm to protect your lips from the sun.
  • Regularly applying moisturizing cream or balm to your lips will help prevent dryness and discomfort.
  • Apply a compress to the area. A cool, moist cloth can help relieve redness, remove crusting, and speed up healing. To relieve pain, apply a warm compress to the blisters. Some people develop cold sores as a reaction to stress.
  • Take lysine supplements. Oral lysine supplements or topical lysine creams have been shown to prevent outbreaks and speed up the healing time of outbreaks.
  • Try relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises and meditation to help manage your stress.
Common Medication
Treatment Options

Below are common treatment options for cold sores. During your appointment, talk to your doctor about what treatment plan is right for you.

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Sesame FAQs

Frequently asked questions about cold sore treatment on Sesame

Sesame offers convenient and affordable online doctor visits with licensed health providers across the country. If you are experiencing the signs and symptoms of cold sores, book a visit right away for a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Online doctor visits can be conducted in the comfort and privacy of your own home. During your visit, you will be asked about your symptoms and health history.

If your doctor determines that you are experiencing a HSV-1 infection, they will discuss a treatment plan with you. This may include prescription medication. If appropriate, your doctor can prescribe medication through Sesame. Depending on the medication, you can have your prescription delivered to your home or ready for same-day pickup at a pharmacy of your choice. Book a visit today to get started on treatment right away.

A primary care provider can usually diagnose a herpes simplex virus infection based on a physical examination of cold sores, and a consultation regarding your symptoms. To definitively diagnose cold sores, your provider may swab a sample from a sore and run it through a lab test to detect the presence of the HSV-1 virus.

To help prevent and manage outbreaks, doctors often recommend the following:

  • Use lip balms and creams.
  • Use a zinc oxide cream or a sunscreen lip balm to protect your lips from the sun.
  • Regularly applying moisturizing cream or balm to your lips will help prevent dryness and discomfort.
  • Apply a compress to the area. A cool, moist cloth can help relieve redness, remove crusting, and speed up healing. To relieve pain, apply a warm compress to the blisters. Some people develop cold sores as a reaction to stress.
  • Take lysine supplements. Oral lysine supplements or topical lysine creams have been shown to prevent outbreaks and speed up the healing time of outbreaks.
  • Try relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises and meditation to help manage your stress.

Yes! Sesame makes it easier than ever to get a new prescription or refill a prescription from the comfort of your own home! To discuss a new online prescription or refill, book a video visit with a doctor or nurse on Sesame to discuss a new online prescription or refill. Clinicians on Sesame can prescribe drugs that help treat conditions like cold sores.

Note that providers on Sesame cannot prescribe controlled substances.

Book a video visit on Sesamecare.com based on the health care you need, and pick up a new prescription or existing prescription refill at a pharmacy of your choice. Browse services on Sesame, set up an appointment with a real doctor at your convenience, and get the care you need.

Booking an appointment with a doctor or nurse online is typically the fastest way to get a prescription! Sesame offers same-day online doctor prescription and prescription refill appointments with board-certified healthcare professionals. If deemed clinically necessary, Sesame providers can provide prescriptions and prescription refills for most non-controlled substances. They can also provide you with a doctor’s note if necessary.

Most online prescription and prescription refill appointments take around 15 minutes, and providers are able to send a prescription to a pharmacy of your choice right after your appointment.

Sometimes! Depending on the prescription medication that you need refilled, you may be able to get a prescription refill without direct consultation with your doctor. Based on the medication you need and the state you live in, you might be able to get your prescription refilled online.

Telehealth has made it easier than ever to get in touch with a health care professional for a prescription refill. Sesame offers convenient and affordable 15-minute video visits with real, quality doctors in Holland, MI, so you can refill your prescription without the hassle of going to a doctor's office. It's simple: Search for the care you need, compare prices, and book a refill visit on your schedule.

Note: You cannot refill a prescription for a controlled substance without a doctor's consultation. Doctors on Sesame cannot prescribe narcotics or medication classified as controlled substances.

Sesame offers video prescription refill services at affordable prices starting at just $29. If you need a new prescription, doctors on Sesame can prescribe medication that helps treat blood pressure, infection, allergies, cholesterol problems, thyroid conditions, and more!

Here’s how it works:

  • Search Sesamecare.com to find the doctor you want to see for the health care service you need.

  • Compare our affordable cash-pay prices. Sesame works with doctors directly- not insurance companies. That means you can pay up to 60% less than what you’ll find through your insurance network, without the worry of surprise bills and hidden fees.

  • Book at your convenience and pay upfront. Pay the one-time price listed on the site and set up a visit with a real, quality doctor on your schedule. It’s that simple.

Sesame offers prescription refills for a wide range of conditions and ailments. Book a visit (in-person or video) to get the care you need at one clear, affordable price. No insurance needed.

Yep! If you request a prescription transfer, you can easily move your prescription from one pharmacy to another. Plus, many pharmacies now offer mail services for home delivery. Here's how to request a prescription refill at a different pharmacy:

1) Call your new preferred pharmacy to request a transfer.

2) Provide that pharmacy with health insurance/ prescription info

3) Wait for the prescription to be transferred before you pick it up. It usually takes pharmacies a few days to transfer a prescription, but you will get a notification once this step has been completed. Either go pick up your prescription in person or set up home delivery.

If you need a prescription refill, book a visit with a real, quality doctor on Sesame today. Doctors on Sesame can refill prescriptions for high blood pressure, birth control, allergies, and more! Save up to 60% on your prescription refill visit when you book with Sesame.

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