If the above picture looks like something you have seen in the mirror before, then this message is for YOU!
This is herpes labialis, commonly called a “cold sore”. Saying it can slow down the social life of a BYU-I single is the understatement of the year! Just try getting a date to the dance with an eruption like this on your lip! Plus, it is also painful and an unwelcome two week distraction in our already busy lives.
It is caused by herpes hominis 1 or “herpes” as it is commonly referred to (with loathing and aversion). Most of us acquire it by kissing someone who is unknowingly shedding the virus before a new volcano appears on their lips. (Or the less romantic version of sharing a soft drink from the same straw). If we have a slight break in our skin, then, voilá!, we have also been marked for life! Forever more we can be subject to intermittent eruptions at that same spot preceded by 2-3 days of stinging, itching, or burning, followed by 2 weeks of social isolation as though we had leprosy….
You will hear about this or that topical treatment (abreva, prevasure, orajel, grasshopper urine) that promises to magically shorten the course of this nightmare down to two weeks (that’s right, the same time as if you did nothing).
But there really IS an inexpensive prescription medicine that can shorten, or even prevent these attacks from occurring. It is called Acyclovir, and it has been around treating herpes infections since I was in residency 30 years ago. Back then we were treating newborn infants seriously ill with herpetic encephalitis whose mothers had their herpes in their nether regions. Acyclovir is also available as a topical, but it is nowhere near as effective that way as it is orally. It comes as a liquid for children and as capsules for those of “pill-swallowing age”. If you start the medicine when the eruption starts, you will cut the 2 weeks down to 1 week. If, however, you start it with the first sign of tingling, itching, or burning (before the blister), you may well abort the attack altogether! So the goal is to have the medicine already on-hand for that 10 PM discovery of, “Oh crap, I think I have another outbreak of the ‘lip plague’ coming on!!” If you have it to take right then, you may still be able to talk some cute date into going with you to the prom!!
For this, and for ALL other health care needs you and your family may have, please come to Upper Valley Family Practice and Urgent Care. We are open 6 days of the week, 8AM to 8PM. We approach the little things (like cold sores when there is no outbreak) and the big things (like herpes labialis TWO DAYS BEFORE YOUR WEDDING!!!!) with information, humor, and professionalism. We are here to help you and your families get through the joys and vicissitudes of life with a smile on your face!
Call 356-8883 for your appointment!