Herpes on the lips is a painful and uncomfortable condition that is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for this virus, but there are treatments available that can help reduce the symptoms and shorten the lifespan of cold sores. When the virus is active, medicines can help reduce and prevent symptoms. However, avoiding risk factors such as sunburn and stress can help prevent additional outbreaks.
Cold sores usually heal in two weeks without treatment, but there are established treatments that can help decrease healing time, reduce pain, and even suppress the recurrence of the virus. Lemon balm may have some antiherpetic properties, but it is impossible to determine if it is effective in affected people from the few laboratory experiments that have been published. Studies have shown that vitamin C can inactivate the herpes simplex virus, which is responsible for cold sores. Melissa, L-lysine supplements, citrus bioflavonoids, Lactobacillus acidophilus and bulgaricus, vitamin C, vitamin E oil and vitamin B12 have also been considered in the potential treatment of the herpes simplex virus, but there is no solid clinical evidence to support these treatments.
An infectious disease specialist is often consulted in complicated cases, such as herpes encephalitis or herpes in a person with a weak immune system. In people who are immunocompromised, such as those infected with HIV or those receiving chemotherapy, serious outbreaks of herpes can occur. Despite popular myth, it is very rare to get herpes (cold sores) on surfaces, towels or washcloths since the virus does not usually survive long on dry surfaces. The prodrome of herpes infections usually involves flu-like symptoms and a burning or tingling sensation that precedes the appearance of blisters by a few hours or a day or two. Although there is no cure for herpes on the lips, there are treatments available that can help reduce symptoms and shorten healing time. It is important to avoid risk factors such as sunburn and stress to prevent additional outbreaks.
If you are experiencing severe symptoms or complications from herpes on your lips, it is important to consult an infectious disease specialist.