Treatment with the diode laser can stop the discomfort and progression of Herpetic lesions (cold sores) and Apthous ulcers (canker sores) in their tracks. Laser treatment seals the nerve endings giving immediate relief from itching, burning, tingling or pain and it biostimulates the area encouraging quicker healing. In the case of the herpetic lesion (cold sore), the viral particles are destroyed resulting in the transformation of the lesion from the active to the healing phase. If the herpetic lesion can be treated during the prodromal stage (the first signs of development) we can stop the lesion from ever manifesting.
Herpes Labialis is commonly known as a cold sore or fever blister. The lesion that forms on the lip is caused by the Herpes virus that lies dormant inside a nerve cell and when released into the surrounding tissues, causes the lesion. The lesion is formed by the destruction of skin cells as they are burst from the invasion of the virus particles. Unlike most viral infections, Herpes outbreaks recur with regular frequency. Although there are many triggering factors among people, trauma from the sun and stress are the most common.
Most people will get a tingling or burning sensation 24 to 36 hours in the area where the lesion will develop. Valtrex or Acyclovir, both (anti-viral medications), are very helpful at this stage of development by minimizing the lesion resulting in accelerated healing, but neither have the same long-term, positive effect as laser treatment of the lesion.
Lesions which are treated with the laser rarely recur or if they do, subsequent outbreaks are less severe. The mechanism by which laser treatment suppress recurrent outbreaks occurs at the sub cellular level; laser energy causes the energy producing portion of the tissue cell to be more efficient in providing energy to mount its own defense. Patients treated with the laser do not report a significant change in sensation after the area has been treated.
Lesions typically show up in the same location on the lip. Treating one lesion does not change the outbreak frequency of other lesions; they must be treated as well. Once treated with the laser, the pain and discomfort stop immediately. Laser treated lesions take 4-6 days to heal and there is rarely any scarring or visible evidence that the procedure was completed after the lip has healed. If a lesion recurs after laser treatment, it is generally smaller, less severe and can be retreated with laser. Chap Stick or petroleum jelly should be on the laser treated area while it is healing. Any discomfort after the procedure is easily treated with Ibuprofen.