Pregnancy can come with a variety of unpleasant symptoms. Some women experience morning sickness or soreness, for example. Cold sores and mouth ulcers in early pregnancy are also common occurrences.
Cold sores often occur because of stress. However, a flare-up can be caused by hormonal fluctuations and fatigue. During a pregnancy, you’re essentially going through all three. While having a baby is an exciting thing, it can also be stressful at times. And, your body is going through a lot of hormonal changes that are uncontrollable. It’s a perfect environment for a fever blister flare-up.
While they will go away on their own, many people seek out a treatment to get rid of cold sores faster, or to eliminate the pain they cause. Even if a cold sore only lasts 10 to 14 days, it can create a lot of discomfort.
But, as a pregnant woman, it’s not easy to know what’s safe. Oral medications should be avoided, unless approved by your doctor. But, are there any effective topical solutions?
Table of Contents:
- 1 What Are the Symptoms of Cold Sores & Canker Sores in Early Pregnancy?
- 2 What Are the Different Stages of a Cold Sore?
- 3 How to Treat Cold Sores during Pregnancy
- 4 What Are the Causes of Canker Sores during Pregnancy?
- 5 What Are the Different Oral Medications for Mouth Ulcers?
- 6 Understanding Cold Sores and Mouth Ulcers during Early Pregnancy
What Are the Symptoms of Cold Sores & Canker Sores in Early Pregnancy?
If you’ve never had a cold sore before, but find that outbreaks are more frequent now that you’re pregnant, it’s nothing to be alarmed about. Again, it could be stress, hormones, or a combination of both.
Cold sores can occur on different areas of the body. But, they are most commonly found near the mouth. If you’re unsure of what to expect, the following symptoms are regularly associated with cold sores in different stages:
- Tingling around the mouth
- Burning and itching sensation
- Painful swelling and blistering
- Body starts to ache
- Swelling of the neck and glands
- Pain in the mouth and throat
These symptoms occur during the different stages of a cold sore. You can start treatment at any time. However, it’s always best to begin treatment at the first sign of a symptom, or the first appearance of a blister. That can speed up the healing process of the sore.
What Are the Different Stages of a Cold Sore?
The stages of a cold sore are important to understand. While the early stages may not be painful, the later stages are when the sore is most susceptible to infection, and will likely cause the most discomfort. There are five different stages of a cold sore.
- Stage one: Minor tingling and itching around the affected area. This will occur about a day before a cold sore appears.
- Stage two: A blister or blisters appear.
- Stage three: The blisters ooze and burst. This creates unsightly and painful open sores.
- Stage four: The open sores crust over and scab.
- Stage five: The scab falls off as the sore heals.
Stages three and four are the most uncomfortable, unsightly, and painful. While stage four is technically a healing stage, it can also be the most difficult to go through. Once your blister scabs over, keep it moisturized. If it dries out and cracks, you could split the sore open again.
How to Treat Cold Sores during Pregnancy
The HSV-1 virus that causes cold sores can’t be cured. Cold sores are just a symptom of the virus. However, you can get rid of cold sores faster, and reduce pain, with the best over-the-counter treatment options.
Some over-the-counter topical treatments are safe to use during pregnancy. One topical solution you can use with confidence is Abreva, an FDA-approved cream that helps with the symptoms of cold sores. You can apply Abreva cold sore cream daily, and are likely to experience no negative side effects.
If you’d like to focus on natural remedies, there are plenty to choose from. Though most are anecdotal, the following solutions have been associated with clearing up cold sores and reducing the pain:
What Are the Causes of Canker Sores during Pregnancy?
Mouth ulcers are small, white sores inside the mouth. They can be referred to as canker sores, or aphthous stomatitis. It isn’t completely known what causes ulcers, but it is believed that the following factors contribute:
- Insufficient sleep
- Lack of proper nutrients
- Changes in immunity levels
As your body adapts to the presence of a new baby, it’s not uncommon to go through some of these changes. The baby uses nutrients in your body, which can leave you feeling tired. However, some pregnant women have trouble sleeping. As you can see, many of the triggers come into play during pregnancy.
Mouth ulcers, like cold sores, will eventually heal on their own. However, they can make eating and swallowing painful. So, finding a treatment solution that will heal them faster is a popular solution for most people.
What Are the Different Oral Medications for Mouth Ulcers?
Many medications designed for ulcers contain steroids, and should be avoided if you’re pregnant. Most over-the-counter medications will specifically have a warning label if they are unsafe to use by pregnant women.
Instead, focus on natural remedies to lessen the discomfort of the canker sore. Some popular home treatment options include:
- Gargling with salt water twice a day.
- Getting enough sleep.
- Taking in enough nutrients through your diet.
- Reducing stress levels.
Avoiding mouth ulcers during pregnancy isn’t a guarantee. But, keeping your mouth clean and eating a balanced diet can help to protect you.
Understanding Cold Sores and Mouth Ulcers during Early Pregnancy
There is no way to 100% avoid getting cold sores or canker sores during pregnancy. The lifestyle choices you make are your best defense.
Having a cold sore or mouth ulcer will not affect your baby. Even though cold sores are caused by a virus, HSV-1 is likely something you already had in your system before you became pregnant. The virus won’t affect the growing fetus and cause any harm.
In practicing the safe treatment of cold sores and canker sores during early pregnancy, be aware of the medications you’re using. The sores may not affect the baby, but certain medications could. Use FDA-approved treatments, such as Abreva cold sore cream.
Always consult with your doctor before taking any type of oral treatment, whether previous prescribed, or over the counter.