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English for PTA


The correct medical term is herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV1), other names in English are cold sores, fever blisters or herpes labialis. After initial infection with the virus, it becomes dormant and “hides” in a nerve ganglion.

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Reactivation of the virus, known as relapse, may occur during menstruation, exposure to UV light, stress or when the immune system is affected. The symptoms include a burning or tingling sensation in the area around the lips, mouth or nose. In general, immediate treatment with an anti-viral agent, such as acyclovir or penciclovir, helps to prevent further development. If left untreated, small painful blisters appear in the affected area. Strict hygiene is essential to prevent the spread of the virus, not only for personal hygiene but also to stop the virus spreading to other persons.

Pharmacy customer: Hello, do you speak English?
PTA: Hello. Yes, I do. What can I do for you?

I just know that I’m going to get another cold sore, and I’m going on holiday next week to the sun!
Oh! Don’t worry too much, if you have the feeling that it is coming then you are in the right place for advice and help!

Do you have anything that I can take to prevent it breaking out?
Certainly! There are a few precautions to take before, during and after the lip herpes breaks out. I recommend using this acyclovir regularly. It’s a good idea to put a small amount onto a cotton bud before applying it to the tingly area. It’s also a good idea to thoroughly wash your hands both before and after using the gel.

Okay, I’ll do that, that’s actually a very good idea! I never thought of that before. Is there anything else that you can recommend?You see, my lips get very dry when I use any of these products.
That was the next thing that I was going to ask you! I would also recommend using this lip balm with dexpanthenol that helps to soothe this dryness. Again I recommend using a cotton bud when applying.

Thank you, I know the product and it really is soothing.
Would you like it in skin-tinted or neutral form?

I’ll take it in neutral thank you.
I assume that you probably already know about the hygiene measures to take if the cold sore actually breaks out: making sure to avoid oral contact with other people, not sharing hand towels or shower towels with others and washing any textiles that have come in contact with the affected area at least at 60° C.

Thank you for reminding me. Sometimes one is so busy with other things that the everyday habits tend to take over.
Here is sun lotion with an SPF of 30 to protect the area from ultraviolet rays. Sun can effect a reactivation of the virus. If you experience other symptoms such as swollen glands, or if the symptoms persist longer than two weeks, it might be necessary to consult a doctor.

I’ll remember that.
So, here are your purchases. Would you like a carrier bag?

No thanks, I’m trying to help the environment! Thank you for your help.
Don’t mention it. Enjoy your holiday! And remember to apply sun protection!

Thank you, goodbye!
You are welcome, bye, bye.

cold sores Fieberbläschen
initial Anfangs
dormant schlummernd
relapse Rückfall
burning brennend
treatment Behandlung
agent Wirkstoff
untreated unbehandelt
strict streng
precautions Vorsichtsmaßnahmen
cotton bud Wattestäbchen
apply auftragen
thoroughly gründlich
lip balm Lippenbalsam, Lippenpflegestift
soothe beruhigen
skin-tinted getönt
habits Gewohnheiten
SPF Lichtschutzfaktor, Sonnenschutzfaktor
glands Drüsen
persist anhalten, fortdauern
carrier bag Tragetüte, Tragetasche
environment Umwelt

Den Artikel finden Sie auch in Die PTA IN DER APOTHEKE 07/15 auf Seite 26.

Catherine Croghan, Lecturer in English and native speaker