Cold Sores | How To Treat A Cold Sore | How To Prevent Cold Sores | How To Get Rid Cold Sore (2018)
Is This The End Of Cold Sores?
Just because cold sores are so common (20 to 40% of Americans get them) doesn't make getting one any less embarrassing. For years, treatment options were limited to creams that only shortened the cold sores 10 to 14-day lifespan by half a day, or prescription tablets that cut it by a full day, at best, says Julia Tzu, MD, a board certified dermatologist at Wall Street Dermatology in New York City. But now a newer option, Sitavig, is gaining a solid reputation among cold sore sufferers and dermatologists alike—it's the only single dose treatment clinical studies have shown to be capable of preventing the early stages of a sore from progressing to a full-blown lesion.
Sitavig is a tablet that contains the cold sore drug acyclovir. It's smaller than an M&M and sticks to the gum above the incisor tooth on the side you feel the cold sore forming (your saliva will carry the drug downward so it'll work for sores on the lower lip, too). Unlike regular oral acyclovir pills that have to be swallowed and absorbed into your bloodstream before taking effect, Sitavig starts working immediately. This on-the-spot delivery system slows the replication of the herpes simplex virus enough that it never surfaces on your lip in the form of a sore, explains Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in the department of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, who served as a consultant for Innocutis, Sitavig's parent company.
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The only catch: you have to apply the tablet within 1 to 6 hours after the time you notice the tingling, burning sensation that signals cold sores are trying to form. If you wait until you already have the cold sore, Sitavig can still speed healing by a day or two, but that isn't any faster than other options like Valtrex (valacyclovir) and Famvir (famciclovir). "No matter what you're taking, you need to take it as soon as possible," says Arielle Kauvar, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and director of New York Laser & Skin Care. Even though they're meant to treat existing cold sores, it is possible (though not guaranteed) for anti-viral pills like Famvir and Valtrex to prevent a sore from forming, too, if you swallow them immediately.
But the potentially game-changing aspect of the drug is that acyclovir delivered this way also reduces the amount of the virus that you're carrying in your body, so that over time, you may get fewer and fewer cold sores per year. In the Sitavig clinical trial, published in theJournal of Drugs and Dermatology, adults who typically got 4 or more cold sores a year had 64% fewer frequent episodes over a 9-month period. Experts can't say for sure if the drug will keep you from getting a cold sore ever again, but so far the results are promising—patients have reported going more than a year and a half with no cold sores.
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You can get two tablets for 0 (though it's just a co-pay under most insurance plans) with a prescription from your dermatologist or general practitioner. And, since the only known side effect is a risk of kidney problems in patients that already have kidney disease, your doctor may give you the prescription even if you've never gotten a cold sore but have reason to be concerned about the possibility.
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