The use of Red light therapy for cold sores is based on the principle that UV rays can inhibit the replication of the HSV-1 virus. The virus causes fever, swelling and burning sensation in the skin which usually occurs during an outbreak. In addition, it leads to the formation of blisters that rupture and scab over again. In order to treat these symptoms successfully, doctors use medications such as acyclovir (Zovirax, Famvir), or valacyclovir (Valtrex, Anafranil) to increase the threshold level of action of the antiviral drugs.
However, treatment using red light therapy for cold sores involves a higher dosage of these antiviral drugs and a shorter duration of therapy. While antiviral drugs are effective in reducing fever and pain, they fail to prevent recurrence of the outbreak. This is because the HSV-1 virus is unable to adapt to different strains of the virus and consequently cannot be killed by any strain. At the same time, treatment only addresses the symptoms of the disease, leaving the underlying cause unaltered. As a result, patients often experience recurrent outbreaks, leading to complications and increased pain and suffering. To improve the quality of life of patients suffering from cold sores, researchers are exploring the role of oxidative stress and the regulation of cellular metabolism in finding a cure.
Using red light therapy for cold sores utilizes wavelengths of visible light, which are emitted by the blue light spectrum, as well as the red light spectrum. These wavelengths are capable of destroying the herpes virus when introduced into the body. Thus, in addition to reducing fever and pain, treatment also reduces the frequency of the herpes outbreaks. Studies have shown that these wavelengths also improve the function of the immune system and reduce cellular aging. Taken together, this results in improved immune function and enhanced cellular defense against viral exposure, making it possible for a patient to permanently eliminate herpes at any stage of the illness.
The method works by exposing infected skin to wavelengths of visible light which are in the range of visible light but which are absorbed by the skin. When the light is emitted, it triggers an autoimmune response from the body’s own white blood cells, causing them to attack the infected tissues. In so doing, it stimulates the production of nitric oxide, an essential element in fighting infection. This process also causes increased blood flow, resulting in the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the affected areas. This allows for healing to occur faster than would be possible without the application of blue light.
The majority of patients with cold sores respond well to the treatment and will notice relief within hours. The effects however are not permanent and the treatments can only be applied to existing blisters. For this reason, patients must use the treatments on an annual basis, as UV exposure can be harmful to the skin if it is applied continuously. However, studies have shown that over the long term, the increased blood flow and oxygen carried by the blue light rays do have a beneficial effect on healing.
For those who have been diagnosed with herpes simplex virus type two, the results can be even more dramatic. Although outbreaks tend to occur less often with patients using red light therapy for cold sores, they can be very painful and last for longer periods of time. For these reasons, it is important that people diagnosed with the herpes simplex virus type two find an effective treatment for their condition as quickly as possible.