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Celehte Fortuin

ISSUE 7 ARCHIVE - DIVING DENTIST

Celehte Fortuin

Act 1: Scene 1:
Friend (Trying hard to be nonchalant): Uhm, hey... what's that on your lip?
You: It's a cold sore.
Friend: Oh, OK.

And even though Friend tried so hard, the barely concealed horror and fear showed in his eyes. The red warning lights and sirens have been activated and screamed loudly in his panicked mind: "Run! Run! Terminate interaction". You can see he wants to get away from you and your lip without hurting your feelings. It's not working.

OK, I admit, I don't get out much and cooking up that scenario was fun. But not entirely true.

Q: I suffer from the occasional cold sore and not only is this painful, but during my diving holidays a huge inconvenience. Is diving with them safe and how can I stop them on holidays?

DD: The cold sore virus is very common and is carried by up to 80% of the population. It's caused by the "Herpes Simplex Virus" (HSV). They are highly infectious and are capable of spreading easily to other parts of the body. Physical contact is required for the spread of the virus between individuals. Unfortunately, once you've been infected, the virus cannot be removed and lies dormant in the nerves supplying feeling to the face and mouth. It is not until the virus has been activated by certain triggers that the classic symptoms appear.
Ralf Tech
A cold sore Common triggers include:
  • Exposure to (UV) light from the sun or sunbeds (fever blisters)
  • Exposure to cold (cold sores)
  • Emotional stress or exhaustion
  • Feeling low or fatigued leading to a weakened immune system
  • Colds, flu, or fever illnesses
  • Exposure to extremes in temperature or weather conditions
  • Trauma or injury to the mouth
Upon activation a tingling or burning sensation is felt in the site where the cold sore will appear. The cold sore is invisible and applying antiviral creams now, MAY prevent the visible signs of the cold sore appearing. Within a matter of hours a small group of painful, fragile, fluid-filled blisters appear. Once the blisters burst a clear fluid is released and ulcers appear. This fluid contains a huge amount of viral particles and is therefore HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS. This phase lasts a few days and is normally very painful. After about four to five days, a thin scab forms, protecting the new skin forming underneath. This scab can become dry, cracked and even bleed. Keeping the lips and scab moisturised will stop this from happening. Scab formation normally marks the end of the contagious phase. Healing continues and after about nine to twelve days, all that left is a pinkish area that will slowly fade.
Worldwide Dive and Sail
Another cold sore They are completely safe to dive with. You may find the scab softening and falling off repeatedly, being immersed in water so often. No big deal. Just stay away from the cleaner shrimp.

The biggest problem is how to reduce the risk of spreading this infection. Here are a few suggestions:
  • Try not to break the blisters or pick the scab
  • Always wash your hands after touching the cold sores or applying medication
  • Do not touch the eyes and avoid wetting contact lenses with saliva while you have a cold sore and always wash your hands before touching your lenses
  • Do not share personal hygiene products such as face cloths or towels while you have a cold sore
  • Sharing eating or drinking utensils should be avoided while a cold sore is present, especially with children.
  • Avoid kissing and oral sex while you have the cold sore (that's all I'm gonna say about that!)
Denney Diving
Infection spreading through contaminated water, air and inanimate objects has not been that well documented and following the above, should lower the risk.

If your concern is over spreading the cold sore through the exchange of regulators during buddy checks or on dives (safety drills, out-of air situations), it shouldn't be. 80% of us are carriers anyway and I'd rather be the one with a cold sore and alive, than the one without it and... well, you get my drift. On diving holidays make sure you get plenty of rest and apply sunscreen liberally, especially to the lips and face.

First infections can be treated by oral antiviral tablets, prescribed by your dentist or GP. Recurrences are normally treated with antiviral creams such as Zovirax. Apply upon first tingle, and keep reapplying until healing. It's never too late or early to start with the treatment. Happy flossing and diving!

Celehte can normally be found singing her way through the day at her Fulham practise. Any questions or queries can be sent here or you can call Fulham Dental Care on 020 7610 9400.
Denney Diving

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