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Dermatology

What you need to know about scleroderma

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Sclerodermia refers to a variety of disorders that compress and harden the skin and connective tissues. It is a progressive, long-term illness. That means it’s gradually getting worse.

It is considered a rheumatism disease and a disorder of the connective tissues. It is also known to be an autoimmune disease, in which the body’s own immune system attacks tissues of the body.

This results in an overproduction of collagen, the protein on which connective tissue is based. The result is a fibrosis, or thickening, and tissue scarring.

Sclerodermia is not contagious. It that run in families but mostly occurs in patients without any history of the disease in their family. It goes from extremely mild to potentially fatal. Up to 1 in 3 people experience extreme symptoms with the disease.

About 75,000 and 100,000 people in the US are believed to be affected, mainly women aged about 30 and 50 years.

Symptoms

Scleroderma can cause swelling of the hands and thickened skin on the fingers.
Scleroderma can cause swelling of the hands and thickened skin on the fingers.

Early signs of scleroderma include changes in the fingers and hands due to exposure to cold or emotional stress, for example, stiffness, tightness and puffiness.

The hands and feet can get swelling, particularly in the morning.

Overall symptoms of scleroderma include:

  • calcium deposits in connective tissues
  • a narrowing of the blood vessels to the hands and feet, known as Raynaud’s disease
  • problems of the esophagus, which links the throat and stomach
  • tight, thickened skin on the fingers
  • red spots on the face and hands

Symptoms, however, can differ depending on the condition and how it affects the individual, and whether it affects one part of the body or an entire system.

Types

Localized and systemic are the two main forms of scleroderma.

Localized scleroderma affects primarily the skin, but it may affect the muscles and bones.

Systemic scleroderma affects the entire body, including the blood and internal organs and especially the kidneys, esophagus, heart, and lungs.

Localized scleroderma

The most mild type of scleroderma is located scleroderma. The internal organs are not affected. Two major forms exist: morphea, and linear scleroderma.

Morphea: Signs include oval-shaped areas of lighter or darker skin that may be itchy, hairless, and shiny. The shapes have a purple border, and the center is gray.

Linear scleroderma: The limbs can have bands or lines of hardened skin, and the head and face occasionally. It can affect muscles and bones.

Systemic scleroderma

Systemic scleroderma affects the circulation of the blood and the internal organs.

There are two main types:

  • limited cutaneous systemic sclerosis syndrome, or CREST
  • diffuse systemic sclerosis

Limited cutaneous systemic sclerosis

The least severe form of systemic scleroderma is limited cutaneous systemic sclerosis. On the hands, feet, face and lower arms and legs it affects the skin. Blood vessels, kidneys, and the digestive system may have problems.

It is often referred to as CREST syndrome, because the symptoms shape the acronym CREST:

C: Calcinosis, or calcium deposits in tissues and under the skin

R: Raynaud’s disease

E: Esophageal problems, including GERD

S: Sclerodactyly, or thick skin on the fingers

T: Telangiectasias, or enlarged blood vessels, manifesting as red spots

The first symptom is often the disease of Raynaud, in which the blood vessels in the hands and feet are small, causing circulatory problems in the extremities. In response to stress or cold patients may experience changes in numbness, pain, and colour.

The skin on hands, feet, and face will begin to thicken.

The effect on the digestive system can lead to trouble swallowing and GERD, or acid reflux.

The intestinal muscles may not be able to adequately transfer food into the intestines, and may not absorb nutrients from the body.

Any of those symptoms may have other causes behind them. Not everybody who has Raynaud’s or GERD’s disease should have scleroderma. Many are not.

Diffuse systemic sclerosis

In diffuse systemic sclerosis the thickening of the skin typically affects the area from the hands to the wrists above. It affects the internal organs, too.

People with scleroderma of systemic types can experience weakness, fatigue, trouble breathing and swallowing, and weight loss.

Causes

Research into the cause of scleroderma is ongoing.
Research into the cause of scleroderma is ongoing.

Which causes scleroderma is not understood but it is thought to be an autoimmune condition that causes too much connective tissue to be created by the body. This induces a thickening, or fibrosis, and tissue scarring.

Connective tissue forms the fibers which make up the body supporting structure. They are located under the skin and around the inner organs and blood vessels, which help strengthen muscles and bones.

Genetic factors, and probably environmental factors, are thought to play a role, although this has not been confirmed.

People with scleroderma frequently originate from families where there is another autoimmune disease.

It is not contagious.

Diagnosis

Scleroderma can be difficult to diagnose because it progresses slowly and occurs in multiple ways, and because some of the symptoms may occur in people without scleroderma, such as GERD.

The doctor should do a physical exam and other examinations. The patient can be referred to a rheumatologist, a joint- and connective tissue disease specialist.

Subsequent tests may be required:

  • looking at the skin under a microscope to check for changes in the tiny blood vessels, or capillaries, around the finger nails
  • skin biopsy
  • blood tests to assess the levels of certain antibodies

The doctor should check for symptoms of skin thickening, GERD, shortness of breath, pain in the joints and deposits of calcium. These can also test for complications in the lung, heart, or gastrointestinal tract.

Treatment

There is currently no cure for scleroderma, and no medication can stop the overproduction of collagen. However, organ system complications can be treated to minimize damage and maintain functionality.

Localized scleroderma may resolve on its own. Some medications may help control the symptoms and help prevent complications.

The aim will be to relieve the symptoms, to prevent the condition from worsening, or at least slow it down, to detect and treat complications as soon as possible, and to minimize disabilities.

Treatment depends on how the disease affects the individual.

Blood pressure medication may help dilate the blood vessels. This can reduce problems with the organs, such as the lungs and kidneys, and they can help to treat Raynaud’s disease.

Immunosuppressants may calm, or suppress, the immune system.

Physical therapy may help manage pain, improve mobility, and improve strength. Aids, such as splints, may help with daily tasks.

Ultraviolet light therapy and laser surgery may help improve the condition and the appearance of the skin.

Scientists are continuing to look for a treatment for scleroderma and are optimistic that a solution will be found.

Complications

Dry mouth and tooth decay are possible complications of scleroderma.
Dry mouth and tooth decay are possible complications of scleroderma.

Scleroderma problems vary in severity from mild to life threatening. There’s an elevated chance of cancer, too.

Movements can be limited as the skin tightens and swelling in the hands and fingers and around the face and mouth occurs. Movement of the joints and muscles can also get harder.

Raynaud’s disease can permanently damage the fingertips and toes, leading to flesh pits or ulcers, and probably gangrene, if severe. Amputation may be required.

Complications in the lung may cause issues with breathing. High blood pressure can cause irreversible lung damage in the artery that carries blood from the heart to the lungs, called pulmonary hypertension. The right ventricle of the heart could be failing. It can require a lung transplant.

Kidney damage can cause high blood pressure or hypertension, and excess protein in the urine. Kidney insufficiency is probable. Symptoms include headache, vision disturbances, vomiting, breathlessness, leg and foot swelling and reduced urine production.

Heart arrhythmias, or abnormal heartbeats and congestive heart failure can be due to heart tissue scarring. The patient may develop an inflammation, or lining around the heart, known as pericarditis. That causes pain in the chest and build-up of fluid around the heart.

Dental problems they will come up. If a tightening of the facial skin makes the mouth wider, it can become more difficult even for daily dental treatment. Dry mouth is common, and the risk of tooth decay increases. Acid reflux can damage the enamel of the dents. Changes in gum tissue can result in teeth being loose and falling out.

Sexual function is affected, and male erectile dysfunction is common. A woman’s vaginal opening may be constricted, and there may be decreased sexual lubrication.

The thyroid gland can become underactive. This is known as hypothyroidism, and it causes hormonal changes that slow down the metabolism.

Intestines may become underactive, resulting in bloating, constipation, and other problems. The esophagus may have problems moving solids and liquids into the stomach.

Most fatalities due to scleroderma are associated with lung, heart, and kidney problems.

Management

Depending on the form and severity of the effect, living with a scleroderma can be challenging. No care is available at this time.

However, there are strategies to reduce some of the impact:

  • eating smaller meals to reduce the impact of GERD
  • keeping skin well moisturized and taking care to avoid finger injuries
  • wrapping up warm to minimize circulatory problems
  • doing appropriate exercise to ease stiffness

The Scleroderma Research Foundation offers a number of tips:

These include:

  • avoiding tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, and recreational drugs
  • getting enough sleep
  • minimizing and stress and managing anxiety, for example, through yoga and meditation
  • avoiding processed foods, sugar, and soda

Scleroderma patients are also recommended not to take echinacea, as it improves the immune system. This can be detrimental to people suffering from an autoimmune disorder.

There can be a psychological effect, particularly when there are physical changes. For a person with scleroderma, help from family and friends can be significant.

The Scleroderma Foundation will help you find support and therapy.

Project offers information about scleroderma studies and advances.

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Dermatology

Causes, symptoms, treatment of psoriasis in the ears

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Psoriasis is a skin condition caused by an autoimmune disease. In some parts of the body, such as the ears, a thick layer of skin cells can form.

It usually affects the elbows, knees, legs, back, and scalp, although it can also affect more sensitive body parts.

Psoriasis is the most common autoimmune condition in the United States, and it comes in a variety of degrees of severity.

This article discusses the causes of psoriasis in the ears as well as treatment alternatives.

What is psoriasis?

psoriasism in ear

Psoriasis is caused by an overactive immune system, which causes the fast development of extra skin cells. Experts aren’t sure whatcauses causing it.

It takes roughly 28 days for healthy skin cells to form. The body eliminates old skin cells during this time to make place for new ones.

In people with psoriasis, the body produces new skin cells every 3 to 4 days, leaving little time for old cells to slough.

This results in the accumulation of old and new cells on the affected areas, resulting in thick, red or silvery scales. These scales are often itchy, crack, and bleed, and they can be uncomfortable.

Researchers are still trying to figure out why psoriasis arises in certain parts of the body, including why some people get it in their ears while others don’t. They do know, however, that it cannot be passed from person to person.

According to a report published in the journal American Family Physician, psoriasis is not contagious. Scratching or touching does not cause psoriasis or transfer it to other parts of the body.

Psoriasis around the ears

People with psoriasis in their ears are extremely uncommon. However, if this occurs, an individual’s emotional and physical well-being may be jeopardised.

Psoriasis can cause the skin rough and scaly. Self-consciousness may be felt by people who have symptoms on their face and ears.

Because the skin on the face is frequently more delicate than that on the elbows, knees, and scalp, some treatments may be excessively harsh for this area. As a result, ear psoriasis might be more difficult to cure.

A blockage can occur if scales and wax build up inside the ear. Itching, pain, and hearing loss may cause from this obstruction.

Scales should be kept out of the ear canal to avoid hearing loss and discomfort.

Psoriasis might worsen over time for certain people. This can happen when something sparks a flare, but it’s often unknown why some people’s psoriasis spreads or worsens. New parts of the body, such as the ears, can be affected at any time.

There is no link between psoriasis in the ears and cleanliness, contact, or other things.

Anyone with psoriasis in their ears should see a doctor to find out which psoriasis treatments are safe to use in their ears.

Treatment

Although there is no cure for psoriasis, it is generally managed with treatments.

People who have psoriasis in their ears may need constant medical attention to keep flares under control and avoid problems like hearing loss.

Some psoriasis drugs should not be used in the ears. Certain topical lotions and ointments, for example, may irritate the fragile eardrum. People should inquire about drugs that are safe for the ear canal with their doctor.

Among the treatment options available are:

  • Eardrops containing liquid steroids.
  • In addition, liquid steroids may be used in conjunction with another psoriasis treatment, such as a vitamin D cream.
  • Shampoos with antifungal properties to help clean the ear and kill fungus.
  • Medications that help the immune system work more efficiently.
  • A few drops of heated olive oil to moisturise and remove wax inside the ears and keep them clean

If psoriasis in the ear causes discomfort or interferes with hearing, a specialist can safely and effectively remove the scales and wax.

It is critical not to attempt to remove the scales by inserting things into the ears.

Pushing the debris deeper into the ear can cause in a blockage, eardrum damage, or skin injury.

A doctor may give a systemic drug if the symptoms are mild to severe. Biologics, a relatively new class of medications, can treat the underlying causes of psoriasis.

Causes

The causes of psoriasis differ from individual to person. Certain factors can briefly aggravate psoriasis before it returns to normal for some people.

Others see their scales and other symptoms get worse over time.

In any case, psoriasis people should strive to avoid triggers wherever feasible. Those who have psoriasis in their ears may notice that a flare affects their hearing, which can be extremely aggravating and frustrating.

The following are some of the most common psoriasis triggers:

  • Stress: While it may not always be feasible to avoid the causes of stress, being able to manage it can help prevent flare-ups. Relaxation, exercise, deep breathing, and meditation may all be beneficial.
  • Medications: Certain medications, such as those for high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, mental health disorders, and malaria, might aggravate psoriasis. People with psoriasis should work with their doctors to discover treatments that do not exacerbate their condition.
  • Cuts, scrapes, sunburn, and other skin injuries: Any type of skin trauma might cause in a new case of psoriasis in the affected area.
  • Certain illnesses: When an infection strikes, the immune system goes into overdrive. This can also cause psoriasis flare-ups. Strep throat, ear infections, tonsillitis, and even regular colds can all cause flare-ups.

Avoiding triggers, whether on the ears, face, or other parts of the body, is an important component of controlling this condition.

Hearing loss and psoriasis

Even if psoriasis does not damage the skin in and around the ears, a person may nevertheless experience hearing loss.

People with psoriasis are more prone to acquire abrupt deafness, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology.

This type of hearing loss might happen in a matter of minutes or over the course of a few days. People over the age of 50 are more likely to be affected by it.

The cause of sudden deafness in psoriasis is unknown, however it could be linked to the immune system harming part of the inner ear. Within 2–3 weeks, almost half of those who have abrupt deafness regain some or all of their hearing.

Doctors may advise that people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis have regular hearing tests to ensure that any abnormalities are detected and treated early.

Living with psoriasis in the ears

Many people suffer from psoriasis, which can be emotionally and physically draining, but with the help of a doctor, they can generally manage the condition.

Finding an effective treatment, whether the flares occur in the ears or elsewhere, is critical to reducing symptoms and flares.

Hearing tests and ear examinations should be done on a regular basis for people who have psoriasis in their ears so that any difficulties can be addressed as soon as feasible.

Because everyone with psoriasis reacts to drugs differently, finding the proper treatment may take some time. Some people’s psoriasis medicine stops working over time, necessitating the use of a different treatment.

People with psoriasis should be able to live full, active lives once they find a suitable treatment.

Conclusion

Psoriasis is a painful, long-term skin condition that can affect the inside and outside of the ear.

It is more difficult to treat than psoriasis elsewhere on the body when it does this. Hearing loss can occur as a result of the condition, both temporary and permanent. Although a complete treatment is not yet attainable, people can control their symptoms with condition and live a normal life.

To avoid serious flare-ups, get regular hearing tests and consultations.

Sources:

  • https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/causes
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4797675/
  • https://www.jaad.org/article/S0190-9622(18)33001-9/fulltext
  • https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/specific-locations/face
  • https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/scaly-skin/psoriasis
  • http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/psoriasis/default.asp
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/314768
  • http://www.aafp.org/afp/2007/0301/p715.html
  • https://www.psoriasis.org/content/statistics
  • https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/sudden-deafness
  • http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/psoriatic-arthritis/what-is-psoriatic-arthritis.php
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25687690

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Dermatology

Causes, symptoms, and treatments of nasal polyps

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Nasal polyps are fleshy swellings that grow in the lining of the nose and the paranasal sinuses, which are air-filled cavities that connect the nasal cavity to the rest of the body. They aren’t malignant tumours.

Polyps come in a variety of sizes, colors, and shapes, such as teardrops. They eventually resemble grapes on a stem as they mature.

Polyps can appear in one or both nostrils at the same time, and they can grow alone or in groups.

Large polyps or clusters can obstruct the patient’s ability to breathe and cause their sense of smell. They have the potential to obstruct the sinuses and cause issues such as recurring infections.

Nasal polyps afflict 4-40% of the general population, and males appear to be 2-4 times more likely than females to develop them. People that develop them are usually in their twenties or thirties.

They are more prone to forming in people who have asthma, sinus infections, or allergies. Nasal polyps can occur in children with cystic fibrosis.

The causes

nasal polyps

Nasal polyps are caused by a variety of causes that are unknown. Although non-allergic asthma is associated to a large percentage of cases, no respiratory or allergic trigger is detected in some cases.

Colonic and uterine polyps, which are found in the digestive tract and uterus, respectively, have no relation to nasal polyps.

Although the specific mechanism of polyp creation is uncertain, most studies agree that they are caused by swelling (inflammation) in the nose or sinuses and are not a disease.

Inflammation, according to some experts, causes fluid to accumulate in the interstitial space (the space between mucous-forming cells) of the nose and sinuses. Gravity eventually pushes these heavy cells down, becoming polyps. A bacterial or viral infection, an allergy, or an immunological response to a fungus are all possible triggers, according to scientists.

Nasal polyps most commonly arise around the sinus openings (in the nasal passage), however they can form elsewhere in the nasal passages or sinuses.

Diagnosis

After asking about symptoms and seeing the patient’s nose, a doctor should be able to make a diagnosis. With the help of a lit tool, polyps are frequently visible.

The following tests may be ordered by the doctor:

  • Nasal endoscopy – a narrow tube with a small camera (or magnifying lens) is inserted into the patient’s nose.
  • CT scan – this enables the doctor to locate nasal polyps and other abnormalities linked to chronic inflammation. The doctor will also be able to identify any other obstructions.
  • Skin prick allergy test – if the doctor thinks that allergies may be contributing to polyp development, he or she may do an allergy test.
  • Cystic fibrosis – if the patient is a young child, the doctor may order a cystic fibrosis test.

Treatment options

Nasal polyps are commonly treated with the following methods:

1) Steroids

The doctor may prescribe a steroid nasal spray or drops to reduce inflammation and shrink the polyps. Patients with one or more small polyps are more likely to receive this treatment. The following are examples of possible side effects:

2) Tablets containing steroids

In cases of larger polyps or more severe inflammation, steroid tablets may be administered, either alone or in combination with a nasal spray. Although steroid tablets are successful at shrinking polyps, they carry the risk of more serious side effects, such as weight gain, and should only be used for a few weeks at a time.

3) Additional drugs

Other medications may be used to treat disorders that exacerbate the inflammation. Antihistamines for allergies, antibiotics for bacterial infections, and antifungal medicines for fungus allergies are just a few examples.

4) Surgery

Surgery is only utilised if the polyps are exceedingly large or if the patient’s other therapies have failed.

Polypectomy

The most common method for removing polyps is surgery. A local or general anaesthetic is administered to the patient. In the patient’s nose and sinuses, a long, thin tube containing a video camera is introduced.

Micro-telescopes and surgical equipment are then used to cut away the polyps. To free up the nasal canal, the surgeon may remove small pieces of bone from the nose.

To help prevent recurrence, the patient will most likely be prescribed a corticosteroid nasal spray after surgery. To aid post-surgical healing, some doctors prescribe using a saline (saltwater) rinse.

Natural treatments

If the symptoms of a nasal polyp appear to be related to an allergic reaction, avoiding the allergen that causes the reaction would most likely assist.

Although tea tree oil and other therapies have been suggested, there appears to be little evidence to back them up.

A steam bath might help relieve congestion symptoms.

Only a high therapeutic dose of vitamin D can help lessen symptoms. It is unknown how this works, how it should be supplied, or how effective it might be.

Complications

A big polyp, or cluster of polyps, can sometimes obstruct the flow of air and the drainage of fluids from the sinuses or nasal cavity, resulting in the following complications:

  • Chronic or frequent sinus infections.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea.
  • The structure of the face may be altered, leading to double vision. Sometimes, the eyes may be set wider apart than normal (more common in patients with cystic fibrosis).

Preventive tips

  • Humidity. Consider using a humidifier if your home’s air is dry.
  • Hygiene. Handwashing frequently and thoroughly lowers the risk of bacterial or viral infection, resulting in fewer incidences of sinus and nasal tract inflammation.
  • Irritants. Some people may be able to lower their risk of developing polyps by avoiding irritants such as allergies, chemicals, and airborne pollution (which cause inflammation).
  • Asthma and allergy management. Patients who follow their doctor’s asthma and/or allergy treatment guidelines are less likely to develop nasal polyps.
  • Nasal lavage or nasal rinse. Using a nasal lavage or saline spray to rinse the nasal passages can assist increase mucus flow and remove irritants and allergens.

Sources:

  • http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/lary.23610/full
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12383287
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3179194/
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/177020
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2504067/
  • http://www.hoajonline.com/histology/2055-091X/1/2
  • http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/nasal-polyps/basics/symptoms/con-20023206
  • http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Polyps-nose/Pages/Treatment.aspx
  • https://journalotohns.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1916-0216-42-27

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Dermatology

Cold sores: What to know

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Cold sores are little blister-like lesions that appear on the lips, chin, and cheeks, as well as in the nostrils. They are less common on the gums and the roof of the mouth.

Before they burst and crust over, cold sores usually cause pain, a burning sensation, or itching. They’re also known as fever blisters.

The herpes simplex virus type 1 is the most prevalent cause of cold sores (HSV-1). These sores can also be caused by an infection with a different strain of the herpes simplex virus, known as herpes simplex virus type 2. (HSV-2).

HSV-1 is carried by 48.1 percent of all 14–49-year-olds in the United States, making them more prone to cold sores.

Although there is no method to cure or prevent cold sores, there are steps that can be taken to lessen the frequency and duration of outbreaks.

The causes

causes of cold sores

HSV-1 and HSV-2, the viral strains that cause cold sores, are highly contagious and spread rapidly during close contact, such as sexual contact.

Following the virus’s entry into the body, a person may experience the following symptoms:

  • sores around the genital area, in some cases
  • sores in or around their mouth or in their nostrils
  • flu-like symptoms

If transmission occurs during oral sex, oral herpes blisters, often known as cold sores, can develop around the genitals.

Without therapy, a cold sore outbreak usually lasts 1–2 weeks before the virus is suppressed by the body’s immune system.

The virus does not leave the body, and while it is usually dormant, it can reactivate to cause cold sores on occasion.

The majority of people with oral herpes are unaware of their infection until they develop cold sores or other symptoms. Because the virus remains dormant, some people only experience one outbreak with no recurrence.

Others may experience recurrent outbreaks that last for years.

What is the definition of genital herpes?

The symptoms

Some people with oral herpes have no symptoms, while others develop them after their initial infection.

Despite this, at least 25% of people with oral herpes have recurrent outbreaks. Cold sores occur in the same places over and over again in this example.

The following are some of the first signs of an HSV-1 infection that may develop 2–20 days after introduction to the virus:

  • swollen lymph nodes
  • lesions on the tongue, mouth, chin, cheeks, or in the nostrils
  • mouth or tongue pain
  • lip swelling
  • a high body temperature
  • headaches
  • dehydration
  • nausea
  • difficulty swallowing
  • a sore throat

Gingivostomatitis, an infection of the mouth and gums, may also be present. This lasts 1–2 weeks and does not happen again.

With the initial oral herpes infection, adults may develop pharyngotonsillitis, an infection of the throat and tonsils.

Symptoms of cold sores at various stages

When a cold sore recurs, it goes through various stages.

  • The sores break and produce fluid.
  • A yellow crust forms on the sores.
  • The crust comes off, revealing pink skin that heals in 3–4 days.
  • A tingling, itching, or burning sensation around the mouth often indicates the start of an outbreak.
  • Painful, fluid-filled sores appear, usually around the mouth.

Most cold sores heal in 1–2 weeks without treatment and do not leave a scar.

Diagnosis

Recurrent outbreaks can be managed at home by recognising the people and taking medication.

Consult a doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • The signs and symptoms are severe.
  • Within ten days, a cold sore does not begin to heal.
    Gums swell up.
  • The person’s immune system is compromised.
  • Other signs and symptoms are alarming.

A doctor can typically diagnose the problem based on the symptoms and a visual inspection, but in some situations — such as if the patient has a weaker immune system — a blood test or a sample of the sore’s fluid may be ordered.

HIV, drugs after an organ transplant, certain types of cancer, and various cancer treatments are all factors that might decrease the immune system.

Treatment

Without therapy, most cold sore breakouts go away in 1–2 weeks.

Some over-the-counter and prescription treatments, on the other hand, can shorten the duration of an outbreak and alleviate any discomfort or pain, though they do not remove the virus from the body.

Treatments should be used as soon as the first signs of an outbreak show in most cases.

Creams with antiviral properties

Antiviral lotions sold over the counter can help to decrease the duration of an epidemic. Acyclovir or penciclovir is found in most creams, including Zovirax and Soothelip.

For 5 days, the cream should be applied to the affected area every 2–3 hours.

Antiviral medicines taken orally

The following are some examples of antiviral drugs that can be taken by mouth:

  • valacyclovir (Valtrex)
  • acyclovir (Zovirax)
  • famciclovir (Famvir)

If a person has a weaker immune system or has frequent breakouts, a doctor may prescribe one of these drugs.

It is taken once or twice a day.

These drugs can help to decrease the duration of an outbreak and prevent it from happening again.

Pain relief

Analgesics like benzocaine or lidocaine are used in over-the-counter solutions. They do not hasten the healing process, although they can help to alleviate pain.

The following are some cold sore pain relief medications:

  • Orajel
  • Blistex
  • Cymex
  • Anbesol

People should use a Q-tip to dab these ointments, lotions, or gels onto the sores, and they should not share these goods.

If a person uses their finger to apply the drug, they should wash their hands before and after.

Alternative drugs include ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol).

At home remedies

Some people find relief from cold sore symptoms by using the following home care techniques:

  • using petroleum jelly to keep the skin moist, preventing cracking
  • dabbing the area with diluted geranium, lavender, or tea tree oil
  • applying cold, soaked tea bags to the area every hour

There is no scientific proof that these therapies are effective or safe.

Complications

Oral herpes can cause difficulties in some people, especially those with compromised immune systems.

Complications that may arise include:

  • If the sores make it difficult to drink, you may be dehydrated.
  • Herpetic whitlow is a painful infection caused by a wound on the skin that causes blisters on the fingers.
  • Herpetic keratoconjunctivitis is a secondary infection that can cause eye swelling and irritation, as well as sores on the eyelids and vision loss if left untreated.
  • If the infection spreads, encephalitis (brain swelling) may ensue.

Encephalitis is a life-threatening condition.

Preventive tips

When you have sores, attempt to:

  • Kissing and other skin-to-skin contact with the affected area should be avoided.
  • During oral sex, use a dental dam or a condom.
  • Personal things, such as towels and lip balm, should not be shared.
  • Use proper handwashing practises.
  • Avoid touching regions including the eyes, mouth, nose, and genitals where sores can form.
  • If it’s necessary to touch the sores, wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after.

Conclusion

Oral herpes can cause painful and inconvenient cold sores.

Many people have no problems and may treat outbreaks at home with over-the-counter or prescription medications.

If you experience cold sores or any other oral herpes symptoms, you should see a doctor very away if you have a weakened immune system.

Recognizing early signs of an outbreak and acting quickly to treat it can assist. Cold sores usually resolve after 1–2 weeks without treatment.

Sources:

  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526068/
  • https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cold-sores/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK525782/
  • https://herpes.org.uk/cold-sores/
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/172389
  • https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/encephalitis-herpes-simplex/
  • https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/herpes-simplex-virus
  • https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/a-z/herpes-simplex-overview
  • https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db304.htm
  • https://www.ashasexualhealth.org/oral-herpes/
  • https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/herpes-keratitis
  • http://www.aafp.org/afp/2010/1101/p1075.html
  • http://www.aapd.org/media/Policies_Guidelines/RS_CommonMeds1.pdf

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