Herpes sores are caused by a virus called the herpes simplex virus (HSV). The virus is categorized into two different types because it can cause oral herpes (known as cold sores) and it can cause genital herpes. Oral herpes is oftentimes referred to as cold sores or fever blisters.
This virus is very common and affects many people throughout their lives. According to John Hopkins Medicine, it is estimated that up to 80% of adults in the United States have oral herpes. The sores can be painful, pesky, and cause embarrassment.
There are several treatment options including home remedies, over-the-counter medications, and prescription medications. Herpes sores can be frustrating because they often recur over one’s lifespan.
Herpes sores can take up to two weeks to heal so many people look for methods to heal herpes sores faster and easier.
Table of Contents
- What Can Cause Herpes?
- What Does Herpes Look and Feel Like?
- Are Herpes Sores Painful?
- How Quickly Can Herpes Blisters Heal?
- How to Heal Herpes Sores Faster?
- Preventing Herpes Breakouts
- When to See a Doctor?
- Key Takeaways
What Can Cause Herpes?
There are two versions of the herpes simplex virus. This virus can cause oral herpes known as cold sores and it can cause genital herpes. Herpes type 1 (HSV-1) refers to oral herpes and herpes type 2 (HSV-2) refers to genital herpes. The herpes simplex virus is very contagious and is spread through contact with someone who is infected.
Although there are many treatment options for herpes, there is no cure. Once you have the virus it will remain in your body. It will be dormant or inactive in your nerve cells for your entire life until something triggers it and it will become active again. Triggers include stress, fever, menstruation, illness, exposure to too much sunlight, and surgery.
What Does Herpes Look and Feel Like?
Oral herpes looks like small blisters around the lips, mouth, and sometimes in the mouth. You will sometimes feel a sore before it is visible. It may feel like a spot that tingles, burns, or itches. The sores can be red, inflamed, and weeping. When they start to heal they will scab over. Sometimes the first infection you have is the worst and most painful. Reoccurring outbreaks are usually milder than the initial infection. Some people may never have another outbreak while others will have many throughout their life.
Are Herpes Sores Painful?
Whether or not herpes sores cause pain is individualized. Some people have a lot of pain with breakouts while others do not have any pain. Outbreaks can sometimes cause symptoms other than just cold sores such as fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, and muscle aches.
How Quickly Can Herpes Blisters Heal?
If you seek and receive treatment as soon as you feel a herpes outbreak coming, it is more likely that your herpes sores will heal faster. In some cases, your sores could heal as fast as 4 days but could take up to fourteen days.
How to Heal Herpes Sores Faster?
There are several options that can help you heal herpes sores faster. The key is to start treatment as early as possible. If you have recurring herpes sores you should try different treatment methods to see which one works best for you and heals your herpes sores the quickest.
At Home Remedies
If you feel that you have a herpes sore you can use ice or a cool wet towel to reduce the inflammation. Do this for 20 minutes at a time for three times a day. The cold will help reduce the swelling and redness. This will help make the sore smaller and heal quicker.
You should avoid acidic foods and drinks if you have an outbreak because it could irritate the sores. Cold foods and drinks may help relieve pain from the sores.
An over-the-counter medication you can try for herpes sores is Docosanol, which is commonly known as Abreva. It is a cream that can be used up to five times a day. It is convenient because you can buy it over the counter. Its active ingredient, Docosanol, aids in treating cold sores.
Be aware that this can only be used on oral herpes and should not be used internally. You shouldn’t share this product with anyone because it could cause the virus to spread. It should be used at the first sign of a cold sore because the earlier it is used the sooner you will have results. It is the only over-the-counter, non-prescription cold sore medication approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
If your sores are painful, you can try over-the-counter ointments such as Orajel to numb the area. This will help with pain but will not heal a cold sore. Tylenol or ibuprofen may be taken to help ease pain if you don’t have any contraindicating medical conditions. There are cold sore patches on the market that cover the cold sores to help relieve pain and prevent scabbing but do not have medication in them.
According to many healthcare resources, Valacyclovir (Valtrex) is the standard treatment for oral herpes sores. The medication works by preventing the herpes simplex virus from replicating. Valacyclovir must be prescribed by a healthcare provider. It is most effective when taken at the first indication of an outbreak and takes an average of 4 days to heal sores.
In 2021, there was a small research study published in a pharmaceutical journal that tested using medical-grade honey in the treatment of herpes cold sores. The participants in the study were instructed to apply medical-grade honey at the first signs of a cold sore. When the sores had healed the patient had to fill out a questionnaire. They found that the healing time of cold sores was faster and the participants had less pain when they used medical-grade honey compared to conventional treatments. More research is needed but medical-grade honey may be a promising alternative treatment in the future (Naik, et al. 2021).
Preventing Herpes Breakouts
Even though there is no cure for oral herpes there are methods you can use to avoid outbreaks. Remember that the virus is highly contagious and can easily be spread to other parts of your body or to someone else. Do not have any intimate contact with others if you have an outbreak. You should not share personal items such as toothbrushes, chapstick, drinking glasses, or towels. Avoid touching your cold sores and make sure to wash your hands frequently.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to Heal Herpes Sores Faster While Pregnant?
If you are pregnant and have oral or genital herpes you should see a healthcare professional. You must have medical guidance on the medications and treatments you can use while you are pregnant.
Can Herpes Sores Heal in 2 Days?
Typically herpes sores can take up to 7 to 14 days to heal. The good news is that you can heal herpes sores faster if you seek treatment at the first signs of a sore.
When to See a Doctor?
You should see a doctor if you would like to try antiviral medication because this requires a prescription. If you are having a lot of pain, get sores often, your sores are spreading, or have a sore that does not heal within 14 days you should see a doctor. If you have any signs of infection such as pain, swelling, warmth, pus, fever, eye pain, eye discharge, or changes to your vision you should see a doctor. If the virus is spread to the eyes it can damage your vision.
Get Help From an Online Doctor
Technology has now allowed patients to connect with healthcare providers quicker than ever before. Telehealth has grown tremendously in the last few years. At DrHouse you are able to connect with an online doctor or a board-certified clinician in as little as 15 minutes. This is convenient when it comes to treating herpes sores faster. With Herpes the key to healing them faster is quick treatment.
It will take some primary care doctor’s office days to get you in for an appointment. With DrHouse you could see a doctor in less time than it takes you to cook a meal or take a shower. You won’t even have to leave your house. This will save you time and allow you to get quick treatment for your medical conditions which is essential when it comes to healing herpes faster.
- Herpes sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus
- Oral herpes is often referred to as cold sores or fever blisters
- To heal herpes sores fast you should start treatment at the first indication of an outbreak
- There are at-home remedies, over-the-counter remedies, prescriptions, and experimental remedies
- Herpes simplex virus is highly contagious
- You can use DrHouse to see a doctor for your herpes sores in as little as 15 minutes
- Naik, P. P., Mossialos, D., Wijk, B. V., Novakova, P., Wagener, F., & Cremers, N. (2021). Medical-Grade Honey Outperforms Conventional Treatments for Healing Cold Sores-A Clinical Study. Pharmaceuticals (Basel, Switzerland), 14(12), 1264. https://doi.org/10.3390/ph14121264
- Oral herpes. Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2022, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/herpes-hsv1-and-hsv2/oral-herpes