Cold sores generally clear up without treatment within two weeks. However, if you have lasting or severe sores, have frequent recurrences, or develop eye discomfort along with a cold sore, make an appointment with your family doctor.
What you can do
Before your appointment, you may want to write a list of answers to the following questions:
- Have you ever had these symptoms before?
- Do you have a history of skin problems?
- What medications and supplements do you take regularly?
Below are some basic questions to ask your doctor about cold sores. If any additional questions occur to you during your visit, don't hesitate to ask.
- Do I have a cold sore?
- What treatment approach do you recommend, if any?
- What self-care steps can I follow to ease my symptoms?
- Am I contagious? For how long?
- How do I reduce the risk of spreading this condition to others?
- How soon do you expect my symptoms will improve?
- Am I at risk of complications from this condition?
- Is there anything I can do to help prevent a recurrence?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to talk about in-depth. Your doctor may ask:
May 23, 2012
- Could you sense a cold sore coming before the sore became visible?
- Do your symptoms include eye irritation?
- Have you noticed if anything in particular seems to trigger your symptoms?
- Have you been treated for cold sores in the past? If so, what treatment was most effective?
- Have you recently experienced significant stress or major life changes?
- Are you pregnant?
- Does your work or home life bring you into contact with infants or with people who have major illness?
- Habif TP. Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 5th ed. Edinburgh, U.K.; New York, N.Y.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-7234-3541-9..X0001-6--TOP&isbn=978-0-7234-3541-9&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed March 9, 2012.
- Herpes simplex. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/skin-conditions/dermatology-a-to-z/herpes-simplex. Accessed March 9, 2012.
- Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2012: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05611-3..C2009-0-38601-8--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05611-3&uniqId=291436269-101. Accessed March 9, 2012.
- Klein RS. Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of herpes simplex virus type 1 infection. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed March 9, 2012.
- Kliegman RM, et al. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1608/0.html. Accessed March 9, 2012.
- Goldman L, et al. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/191371208-2/0/1492/0.html#. Accessed March 9, 2012.
- Klein RS. Epidemiology of herpes simplex virus type 1 infection. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed March 16, 2012.
- Wolff K, et al. Fitzpatrick's Color Atlas and Synopsis of Clinical Dermatology. 6th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2009. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=45. Accessed March 16, 2012.
- Klein RS. Treatment of herpes simplex virus type 1 infection in immunocompetent patients. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed March 16, 2012.
- Cold sores. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed March 19, 2012.
- Rakel RE. Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/191205553-4/0/1481/0.html#. Accessed March 19, 2012.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.