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Laser Dentistry for Cold Sores

What are cold sores?


Cold sores are groups of small blisters on the lip and around the mouth. Often the first sign of a cold sore is a spot that tingles, burns, itches, or causes discomfort. A blister usually forms within 6 to 48 hours. The skin around the blisters is often red, swollen, and sore. The blisters may break open, leak a clear fluid, and then scab over after a few days. They usually heal in several days to 2 weeks.


Traditional Treatment

Can help to manage pain and discomfort but are generally ineffective at accelerating the healing process

  • Prescription antiviral (Topical or oral Acyclovir): Can be helpful if applied to the cold sore or taken at first sign of symptoms. Can speed up the healing by 1-2 days. Once the blister develops though, an antiviral prescription does not help

  • Over-the-counter creams, ointments, gels, or balms for cold sores: Moisturizes and protects lips to prevent cracking and excessive drying of the lips, or anesthetics that help to reduce the pain of cold sores.


Benefits of Laser Treatment


Low-Level Laser Therapy: quick-acting alternative for the treatment of cold sores that provides both effective pain relief and a significant reduction in healing time

  • Treatment takes 15 minutes and is pain-free

  • Pain relief is immediate and longer-lasting than topical treatments

  • Faster healing without discomfort: Majority of lesions completely healed within 2 days, while almost all lesions were healed within 5 days.

  • Helps prevent blisters from forming if treated during the “warning/tingling” stage

  • Arrests the progression of the sore following treatment

  • After treatment, it’s possible for sores recur with less frequency and less intensity



Self Care Advice


  • Do not to touch or pick cold sores. Only touch cold sores when applying topical creams.

  • Vaseline or Polysporin may help soften the skin and provide a protective layer against infection.

  • Topical treatments should be dabbed on the cold sores rather than rubbed in. This is to minimize damage to the blisters which may spread the virus around, or cause more pain by breaking the blisters or scabs.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching cold sores and after applying creams to them.

  • If you find that sunlight triggers your cold sores, try using sunscreen lip balm (SPF 15 or more) before going out into bright sunlight. This has been found to prevent some bouts of cold sores in some people. Do not share lip balms with other people if you have cold sores.

  • There is a risk of infecting the eyes with the cold sore virus if your contact lenses become contaminated. You can prevent this with careful handwashing before handling your contact lenses.



Follow Up


Generally, Dr. Man will recommend a follow-up appointment in 3-4 days to assess the healing of the cold sore and determine if a second round of laser treatment is required.


Please feel free to ask us any questions. We are honoured to be your dental care provider!

Any further questions? 

Get in touch!

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Dr. Karen Man
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