How to treat oral herpes? Oral herpes is like an annoying house guest you can’t get to leave but you can lock in the basement. The right treatment for oral herpes won’t ever cure you of the disease, but it may keep you symptom-free.
Topical treatments. Herpes was originally considered to be a skin condition, so it was treated with antiviral creams. It turns out that herpes is also a nerve condition, since the virus “hides” in nerve tissue between outbreaks, and oral herpes treatment in pill form to be taken by mouth is much more effective.
- Acyclovir, sold under the trade name Zovirax, relieves pain of cold sores and fever blisters, although it does not stop transmission of the virus.
- Pencyclovir, sold under the trade name Denavir, relieves the pain of cold sores and fever blisters, is believed to reduce transmission of the virus, and helps sores and blisters heal faster. Neither acyclovir nor pencyclovir is effective for genital herpes.
- Docosanol, sold under the trade name Abreva, keeps the herpes virus from getting inside uninfected cells. It won’t stop blisters completely, but it usually accelerates healing by about three days.
Topical pain relievers. Lidocaine, sold as the Lidoderm patch, partially relieves pain of blisters for a few hours. Allergies to lidocaine are possible, and if you get an allergy, the pain will temporarily be worse.
Over the counter blister treatments. Blistex and Camph-Phenique relieve pain but don’t help heal blisters. Other over the counter treatments, especially if they contain alcohol, may actually make blisters work.
Herbal products. Lemon balm creams ease pain and sometimes accelerate healing by as much as four days. Aloe keeps scabs from breaking open. Propolis is antiviral and also helps prevent secondary infections with bacteria that get inside the skin when the scab comes off. All of these products can be used with prescribed herpes medications.
Home remedies. The old saying goes, “Ice is nice.” Holding ice to the lip at the first sign of tingling or numbness may slow down or stop the multiplication of the virus, and sometimes prevents blistering.
Oral anti-herpes medications. Only oral medications, however, have the potential of stopping fever blisters and cold sores before they even start-as long as you take them at the very first sign of symptoms. Oral acyclovir (also sold under the trade name Zovirax), valacyclovir (Valtrex), and famciclovir (Famvir) stop the virus from multiplying. Because the bloodstream carries them to the nerves where the virus hides, they are much more effective than their counterparts formulated as skin creams. These drugs don’t become active, however, until they are broken down by enzymes in the liver, and if you have liver disease, other methods of treatment may work better for you.