This site is intended for Healthcare Professionals only


Down in the mouth

Alan Nathan explores how OTC treatments can help give the cold shoulder to cold sores (herpes labialis)


A worried looking young mother has asked to speak to you. She says that she has suffered from cold sores since childhood and now feels very guilty because she thinks that she has infected her 4-year-old daughter, who has just had an attack. She wants to know if there is anything she can do to prevent her having any more and also to prevent her younger son, who is 1 year old, from becoming infected.


1 What advice can you give to this mother?
2 What is the cause of cold sores, and how are they contracted and transmitted?
3 What can trigger attacks?
4 What are the characteristic features of the condition?
5 What other conditions share diagnostic features with cold sores, and how can they be distinguished from them?
6 What would make you refer on a patient presenting with cold sores?
7 What treatments are available?
8 What additional advice could you give?

Copy Link copy link button