How to survive the holidays with a cold sore

You feel it, and you know instantly what it is.  That intermittent tingling on your lip and the slight swelling.  Another dreaded cold sore!!  People often confuse canker sores with cold sores (also called fever blisters). Cold sores are groups of painful blisters filled with fluid that appear around the lips and under the nose.  They are extremely contagious and last 7 to 10 days.

Only this time of year, getting a cold sore is a little worse.  It’s the holiday season and that could mean one or two occasions where you’ll have to partake in a festive outing of some sort.  Whether it’s an office party or friends and family have invited you over to share in the yule tide fun, you’ll be out and about with a fat and sore lip.  Oh the humanity!! 

While having a cold sore can be quite a burden, rest assured, you are not alone. Nearly 98% of the population has the strain of the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) that causes these sores.  Usually, a person gets infected with the virus during childhood.

As many as 1 in 2 American adults have oral herpes.  Most HSV infections are asymptomatic, so many people who carry the virus don’t know that they have it.**

Even though there is no cure for cold sores, there is something that you can do to help prevent it and treat it once it's detected. Some of these things may contribute to the onset of a cold sore, so avoiding them can help:



-Touching or peeling chapped lips

-Strong sun exposure

-Feeling rundown or low energy


There are also some antiviral medications that can help with more frequent outbreaks such as:

-acyclovir (Zovirax)

-valacyclovir (Valtrex)

-famciclovir (Famvir)

-penciclovir (Denavir)


These medications can not only help diminish the duration of the sores, but help to prevent them if taken regularly. You’ll need a prescription from your dentist or primary care doctor. 

Once you feel a cold sore coming on, don’t hesitate!  Call your doctor right away because the sooner you start treatment, the sooner you can be feeling more confident about seeing everyone for the holidays!!  Have a wonderful holiday season and a very happy and healthy New Year from all of us at Emerson Dental Arts!

**excerpt taken from


Dr. Archer Katz is a general and cosmetic dentist offering personalized, painless and superior dental care for patients in Emerson, NJ. Dr. Katz earned his undergraduate degree in Psychology/Chemistry in 1981 from Rutgers University, and received his DMD from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1985. Dr. Katz believes in continuing education and is certified in BIOLASE Laser Technology, Invisalign® Orthodontics, Advanced Endodontics and Periodontics, and more. In addition, he is an active member of the American Dental Association, Bergen County Dental Society, the New Jersey Dental Association and the Academy of Facial Esthetics.  Dr. Katz has been voted a Bergen Top Dentist, for 2019, in Bergen Magazine.  He has also been chosen as one of America’s Top Dentists since 2007 by Consumers Research Council of America. To learn more about Emerson Dental Arts and the services Dr. Katz provides, please visit our website at or call/text (201) 261-3364.



Lisa K.

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