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How to deal with cold sores in clinic


Caused by the herpes simplex virus, cold soles can negatively influence the treatment plans of patients.

Cold sores tend to present first as a tingling, itching feeling, before the appearance of small fluid-filled blisters that burst and crust over. They should heal within 10 days but can be contagious and irritating during this period.

Due to the infectious nature of cold sores and the effect they can have on the results of aesthetic procedures, practitioners should be ready to adapt the treatment of a patient who presents with them.

Firstly, you want to ensure that your clients feel comfortable discussing all aspects of their health with you, including if they are prone to cold sores. Secondly, do not rush the patient’s medical history. Says founder of new aesthetics clinic Skin Lab London, Raina Scott. “Medical history forms are fundamental for safe treatment – but only if you receive the full picture from the client, which may require guidance and patience. I would rather book out two hours for one treatment, especially if it's their first time, just so they can get used to me and feel able to tell me things.”

If a patient does present with, or mentions, having previously had a cold sore, “the first thing you should ask the client is when their last outbreak was, because if it's been less than two weeks, you can't treat them,” says Scott. “If they also get them quite often and you want to be safe, you can send them to the pharmacy for antiviral medication to take just a couple of days prior to their appointment.”

Take the time to educate your clients about why you can’t treat a patient with active cold sores. Scott continues: “Remind patients that if you treat them during or too soon after an outbreak, there is a huge risk of a big outbreak; not just of one cold sore, but a whole cluster around the mouth. That would be very uncomfortable and sore for the client, and you can’t control how it spreads.

“You should also make the client aware that if they do carry the virus, they could still have an outbreak after treatment,” explains Scott. “This can have an impact on the final results, especially with lip fillers because it’s so sensitive. It's not to say that someone that has the virus can't be treated. It's just that extra care and precautions need to take place.”

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