Normally cold sores heal on their own within 7-14 days and don't require medical attention. However, if the cold sore becomes infected with bacteria, lasts more than two weeks, or develops in the eyes, a skin care professional should be consulted as soon as possible. In rare cases, cold sores that develop in the eyes can cause ocular herpes which is a serious eye infection of the cornea. If left untreated, ocular herpes can lead to blindness; so immediate medical attention is necessary.
Before Your Appointment
You may also want to put together a list of questions to ask your skin care practitioner prior to your appointment. This will help you have a better understanding of how you can prevent future outbreaks. Here are some examples of questions you may want to ask:
• What causes cold sores?
• What are the initial symptoms I should look for before an outbreak?
• How long do cold sores last?
• Can the herpes simplex virus cause any serious problems that I should be aware of?
During Your Appointment
Your skin care practitioner may ask you questions about your medical history as well as examine the cold sore. Normally a diagnosis can be made simply by looking at the blisters, but if necessary, a skin culture or blood sample may be taken to confirm the condition. Your skin care professional will generally prescribe a topical cream or oral medication to clear your cold sore. If breakouts occur more than six times a year your practitioner may recommend taking daily medications to suppress the cold sore virus.