It is the latest horror of the holiday season – the sudden onset of a cold sore.
Caused by the herpes simplex virus and usually occurs around the mouth, this painful blister typically clears without treatment in seven to ten days.
After someone has contracted the virus – through close contact – it remains mostly dormant but can be triggered by triggers, resulting in a cold sore outbreak.
These include fatigue and stress, so many suffer during the holiday season.
In the final part of our MOS series of the Christmas party, we asked the experts how to treat the fearsome pre-match headache.
THREE DAYS TO THE PARTY
If you think that you are at risk of developing a cold sore, try an ointment containing an antiviral such as acyclovir.
“I use Zovirax during the holiday season,” says Jo Martin, clinical director of Mapperley Park Clinic in Nottingham.
Rub a few of two to three times a day until a week before an event assures me that I do not have one.
The first sign of a cold sore is a tingling or bruising sensation around the mouth. It is important to act immediately to avoid becoming unpleasant.
“If you have cold sores regularly, get a recipe for acyclovir tablets from your family doctor,” says Dr Mayaud. “In private, it will cost around £ 6.50 for a course. Never use this as a preventative measure as it is possible to develop a resistance.
TWO DAYS TO GO
Continue to take the tablets if you have started, or start right now. Infrared light therapy has been clinically proven to eliminate cold pain in three days, too.
“Using the Virulite infrared device [£ 39.95, vcs.eu.com] for three minutes, three times a day for two or three days has been proven to get rid of a cold sore, even when the entire blister has been developed,” Says Dr Dougal Gordon, a GP and electronic engineer who invented the Virulite device, available on the NHS prescription.
Once you have blistered the area with the Virulita, apply the Zovirax cream, which can be used up to five times that day. Professor Tony Nash, an infectious disease expert at the University of Edinburgh, says: “Be rigorous and rub, even if uncomfortable, to ensure it penetrates deeply into the blister.”
For those who know Zovirax is not effective for them, a high street cream containing new antiviral docosanol is available (Blistex Cold Sore Cream, £ 6.29, pharmacy2u.co.uk).
There are natural solutions, too. “One study suggested that the combination of pure mint oil and manuka honey is more effective than acyclovir,” says natural health expert Philip Weeks.
I suggest making a small pot of cream with a ratio of one tablespoon of manuka honey to three drops of oil. Mix well and dab in four times a day until the day of the party. Make sure the sore is covered before going to bed.
Laser treatment is an option at this time. “Pulsed dye lasers have proven to be effective,” says Jo Martin. “They work similarly to infrared devices by stimulating the body’s immune response, except that the dose is much more intense, so only one session is needed.” Sessions start from £ 30 and the last five minutes (mapperleypark.co.uk).
ONE MORE DAY
If your cold pain is not diminishing, or seems to be getting worse, do not hesitate to use the Virulite device more than recommended – the only negative is having to hold it in your mouth.
“It will not do any harm and I’ve had a lot of anecdotal comments that explode for three to five minutes every hour has noticeable effects,” says Dr. Gordon.
Philip Weeks recommends approaching cold sores from the inside as well. “Guzzle loads of lemon balm tea,” he says. It is delicious and antiviral.
UP TO DATE
If the cold pain has not yet disappeared, all hope is not lost – there is makeup.
“A good liquid foundation, such as the Dermablend Fluid Corrective Foundation [£ 13.15, 30ml, escentual.com] will seep into the irregular scab and cover it,” says dermatologist Dr. Sam Bunting.
‘The application of Zovirax or something similar will keep it hydrated and prevent it from cracking. Because the hard crust will be fragile, accumulate thin layers of color with a cotton swab.
What if you take the scab? “It’s likely to be left with a damp surface that makeup does not cling to,” says Dr. Bunting. ‘Compeed Cold Sore Blister Patches are transparent, adhesive and promote healing. The make-up clings to the invisible film.
“If you are a man and you do not want to be seen with a sore and subtly covered with makeup.
“If you are still really emphasizing the stain, distract from it by highlighting your eyes with makeup.
“Obviously, this will not be possible if you are a man – so maybe a jazz tie will help!”