More than 67 percent of people all over the world get cold sores which are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Once you’ve had this virus, it remains in the nerve cells and causes more cold sores. These sores are tingling, burning, and uncomfortable. Sometimes, they’re offensive that make you want to pop. However, be careful with popping cold sores because this is more dangerous than you think. It can worsen your infection and lead to other complications. Keep reading to know more detail about the consequences of popping cold sores.
How Long Does Cold Sores Take to Heal?
Generally, there’re 5 stages of cold sores. You must go through these stages before getting healing finally. The healing time may last from a few days to two weeks without treatments. In the first stage, there’s no sore, but you will see tingling and burning sensations at the affected area. Next, some fluid-filled blisters appear. Then, the sores form a scab after the blisters pop. Finally, the scab flake away and the skin returns to normal.
If your cold sores last longer than two weeks or your immune system is compromised by diseases, you should talk with your doctor.
What Happens if You Pop Cold Sores?
A cold sore is inconvenient and uncomfortable, but it can be healed on its own. The blisters of a cold sore can break, scab over, and fall off naturally without leaving scars. However, disturbing this healing process may result in serious complications, including
- New infections come. While you have a cold sore, the affected skin area becomes inflamed and weakened. And popping the opening sore will allow other bacteria, viruses, and fungi to penetrate. As a result, you suffer from new infections. Having new infections will slow down the healing time and make the affected skin area worse.
- Having more cold sores. As cold sores are a highly contagious infection, popping the sores put you at risk of having more cold sores. Once the fluid from the sores is produced, it passes the virus to the rest parts of the body. Besides, this increases your risk of spreading the virus to others.
- More painful. A cold sore is commonly painful enough as it is, except for the first cold sore outbreak (may be more painful and severe). Popping it will not only cause irritation but also make the pain worse.
- Leaving scars. Colds sores don’t usually leave scars when they heal on their own or are treated with medications. But if you pop cold sores, it’s possible to leave scars.
If you pop cold sores, this leads to many severe problems. Plus, it’s especially crucial to not pop cold sores when you have a weakened immune system because of other conditions or medical treatment.
What Should You Do Instead?
While popping cold sores are not allowed, what you should do instead. Don’t panic. There’re many things you can do to promote the healing process, such as
1. Take OTC Painkillers
If your cold sores are very painful, OTC painkillers can be helpful. Some types of OTC pain relievers you can take include ibuprofen or acetaminophen. But, cold sores are often painful enough as they are, so you shouldn’t avoid taking painkillers if you can tolerate the pain.
2. Apply OTC Antiviral Medications
Instead of popping cold sores, you can speed the healing time by antiviral medications. Cold sore antiviral medications will work best if you apply them at the first signs of the infection. Acyclovir or Valacyclovir are common prescribed medications for herpes. Also, cold sore creams are available without your doctor’s prescription. You can look for some creams including Prosurx, Famacyclovir, or Zilactin.
3. Apply An Ice Compress or Cold Towel
Apart from antiviral medications, applying an ice compress is useful to get rid of cold sores. This helps to reduce pain and soothe burning or tingling. Plus, applying an ice compress or cold towel also relieve swelling and redness of cold sores.
4. Use Natural Home Remedies
Though antiviral medications are more effective, you can also try home remedies to cope with cold sores. Lemon balm, aloe vera gel, coconut oil, honey, or tea tree oil are helpful. But not all types of home remedies are useful for everyone. Some may lead to irritation. So you should test before using and stop applying if notice any red, burn feelings when applied.
5. Always Wash Your Hands
Because of a contagious infection, cold sores can be passed to other parts of the body by your hands. Thus, avoid touching your cold sores. If you apply creams by your hands, make sure that you wash your hands immediately to avoid spreading.
Cold sores with painful blisters can be frustrating. But if you pop cold sores, you may get more serious complications. Instead, try the above ways to get rid of cold sores. If your cold sores still last longer with medications, you should consult with your doctor soon.