Treating Cold/Canker Sores
Oral herpes, more commonly known as cold sores, is caused by a virus that never leaves the body. The virus lies dormant in the central nervous system until it is reactivated by stress, sunlight, sunburn, fever, menstruation, or local skin trauma. When reactivated, the virus travels down the nerves to the skin where it causes painful blisters around the lips, in the mouth, or in about 10% of cases, on the nose chin or cheeks.
Low level lasers are extremely effective in treating cold sore outbreaks. Treatment is most successful in the early stages when the skin feels tingly, burning, itchy, or painful. Application of the laser over the affected area for about 5 minutes will reduce the healing time from two weeks to 4-5 days and in many instances prevent the blisters from even appearing. Unlike oral medications, there are no side effects1, and it has been shown that laser therapy can even be used in the latent period between the attacks to lower the incidence of recurrence.2
A canker sore is a painful, open sore, which appears white with a bright red border. Canker sores usually appear on the inner surface of the cheeks and lips, tongue, soft palate, and the base of the gums. The sore may be triggered by emotional stress, dietary deficiencies (especially iron, folic acid, or vitamin B-12), menstrual periods, hormonal changes, food sensitivities, or mouth injuries.
The pain from canker sores can last 7-10 days with complete healing in 1-3 weeks without any treatment. Ibuprofen or topical medications like Anbesol or Oragel can be used for pain relief. Prescription topical gels can be used in severe cases. However, the most effective treatment is low level laser therapy, which not only provides pain relief, but also significantly speeds up the healing time of canker sores.
If mouth sores haven’t healed within two weeks, schedule an appointment with your dentist today.
- Vélez-Gonzalez M et al. Treatment of relapse in herpes simplex on labial and facial areas and of primary herpes simplex on genital areas and “area pudenda” with low power HeNe-laser or Acyclovir administred orally. SPIE Proc. 1995; Vol. 2630: 43-50
- Schindl A, Neuman R. Low-intensity laser therapy is an effective treatment for recurrent herpes simplex infection. Results from a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study. J Invest Dermatol. 1999: 113 (2): 221-223.