“Cold Sore” is a phrase often used to describe lip a erosion caused by the virus known as Herpes Simplex 1 (HSV1). Basically what happens here is that a person gets infected with HSV1 by kissing someone , drinking after someone, or using someone’s eating utensil.
Once a person is infected with HSV1, then he or she will carry that HSV1 virus around for life. Episodically, the virus will start to irritate the skin and cause the shallow skin layers to break down.
Exposure to UV light is a common trigger for these lip herpes outbreaks and the severity of the outbreak seems to be related to the intensity of the sun exposure. The lips you see on the left side of this photo started out as a small cold sore which just became bigger and bigger after she got quite a bit of sun while floating down one of our Texas rivers in an inner tube. These sores then became infected with bacteria in addition to the viral outbreak.
Fortunately, this story has a happy ending. We were able to give this patient the optimal collection of medications including antibiotics and antivirals and save her lips! 8 days after the first picture was taken, and after she took the right medications, we took the picture on the right. Her lips look great! The only permanent consequence is that the patient will be wearing ChapStick with sunscreen from now on.
If you have a history of cold sores or known infection with HSV1, start wearing ChapStick with sunscreen. It can prevent you from having problems like this.
If it’s too late and you need some help, come see us! Contact us to schedule an appointment today! Remember, when you make an appointment with us, you will be seen by a board certified, dermatology residency trained, M.D. dermatologist. There is no one more qualified to work on your skin.
Also, thank you to the patient for allowing us to share her pictures and educate others about this case!