Posts for category: Dermatology
What are cold sores and what can you do to relieve your symptoms?
Most people who have had cold sores often know when they are about to appear. The tingling and burning sensation around the mouth is often the first indicator that a cold sore is imminent. Approximately 80 to 90 percent of Americans have been exposed to the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1), which causes cold sores. If you have cold sores then you are probably wondering more about this condition, how to treat it and what it means for your health.
What are the symptoms of cold sores?
Symptoms often stick around for about two to three weeks. Besides experiencing oral sores around the mouth, people may also experience flulike symptoms such as fever, muscle aches and fatigue. These oral sores will often appear as tiny blisters that break open and scab over.
When should I see a doctor about cold sores?
While cold sores often don’t warrant a trip to the dermatologist, there are certain times when it might be advisable. These sores can be painful, so if you find it difficult to eat or talk then you will want to talk to your doctor about the best ways to alleviate the pain to make eating easier. The last thing you want to deal with is dehydration on top of an outbreak.
If these oral sores look different from other cold sore outbreaks, then it’s also worth seeing your dermatologist to receive a proper diagnosis. Those with weakened immune systems due to chronic illness or chemotherapy should also see their dermatologist to prevent further complications.
What treatments are available for cold sores?
While many cold sores will go away without the need for treatment, if you are experiencing pain we may prescribe a topical anesthetic to reduce your discomfort. There are also overthe-counter treatments that speed up healing and reduce pain. However, for those with severe infections your dermatologist may also prescribe an oral antiviral medication.
Those with weak immune systems and those who become dehydrated as a result of cold sores may need to go to the hospital to prevent further problems and to receive oral antivirals.
While you cannot cure the virus that causes cold sores, there are certainly ways to reduce your symptoms. Talk to your dermatologist to find out more!
If you spend time outdoors, then you’ve probably come into contact with poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac at some point in your life. The plants’ oily sap, known as urushiol causes many people to break out in an itchy rash. Urushiol is colorless or pale yellow oil that exudes from any cut part of the plant, including the roots, stems and leaves.
The intensely itchy rash is an allergic reaction to the sap and can appear on any part of the body. The severity of the reaction varies from person to person, depending on how much sap penetrates the skin and how sensitive the person is to it. The most common symptoms include:
- Itchy skin
- Redness or streaks
- Small or large blisters
- Crusting skin when blisters have burst
When other parts of the body come into contact with the oil, the rash may continue to spread to new parts of the body. A common misconception is that people can develop the rash from touching another person’s poison ivy rash. However, you cannot give the rash to someone else. The person has to touch the actual oil from the plant in order have an allergic reaction.
When to See Your Dermatologist
Generally, a rash from poison ivy, oak or sumac will last 1 to 3 weeks and will go away on its own without treatment. But if you aren’t sure whether or not your rash is caused by poison ivy, or if you need treatment to relieve the itch, you may want to visit a dermatologist for proper diagnosis and care. You should also see your dermatologist if the rash is serious, in which case prescription medicine may be necessary. Swelling is a sign of serious infection.
Other signs that your rash may be serious include:
- Conservative treatments won’t ease the itch
- Rash begins to spread to numerous parts of the body
- Pus, pain, swelling, warmth and other signs of infection are accompanying the rash
- Facial swelling, especially on the eyelids
- Rash develops on face, eyelids, lips or genitals
- Breathing or swallowing becomes difficult
To avoid getting the rash caused by poison ivy, oak or sumac, learn how to recognize what these plants look like and stay away. Always wear long pants and long sleeves when you anticipate being in wooded areas, and wear gloves when gardening. If you come into contact with the plants, wash your skin and clothing immediately.
Poison ivy, oak and sumaccan be a real nuisance and often difficult to detect. As a general rule, remember the common saying, “Leaves of three—let them be.” And if you do get the rash, visit our office for proper care.