10 Home Remedies for Cold Sores
Cold sores are small and painful blisters that are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), they’re also known as fever blisters and herpes simplex labialis. It’s estimated that around 90% of the worlds’ population carry some form of the HSV virus, and that makes cold sores quite a common ailment.
The symptoms are usually most severe the first time you get a cold sore. If a child is gets a cold sore for the first time, it’s important to note that this can make the child seriously ill and medical attention may be required. After the first outbreak the body should develop antibodies, due to this many people never experience cold sores for the second time. When most people think of cold sores they just think of the blister on the mouth, but it’s good to know the symptoms and in which order they occur:
* A tingling or burning sensation
* The blister usually forms between 24-48 hours after these first symptoms
* The area becomes red, swollen and is accompanied by pain and discomfort
* The blister opens, fluid comes out. This stage will last 2-3 days
* After that a scab will form, this scab may crack or bleed
* The scab comes off
There are other symptoms to look out for that are commonly associated with cold sores:
* Burning sensation on the inside of your mouth
* Upset stomach
* Sore throat
* Pain when you swallow
Although there are some very effective over the counter medications, there are also some plenty of natural ways to approach the fight with cold sores. Here are 10 home remedies for cold sores:
#1 – Avoid Spreading the Virus HSV is very contagious so it’s a good idea to avoid physical contact with other people, make sure you use separate dishes, utensils and hygiene related items such as, towels, tooth brushes and razors. Both types of HSV (HSV-1 & HSV-2) may cause sores on the genitalia, so it’s strongly recommended against participating in any type of sexual activity, particularly oral sex, until your cold sore is gone.
#2 – Lemon Balm Lemon balm helps reduce redness and swelling that is common with all types of blisters, including those caused by cold sores. Lemon balm can also help protect against future infections so it works great as a prophylactic.
The active ingredient in lemon balm is Melissa Officinalis, make sure the lemon balm you use contains at least 1% of this ingredient. Alternatively, you can also prepare a compress made from lemon balm tea and apply it to your cold sore.
#3 – Reduce Stress Stress is citied as a common cause for cold sore break-outs, and this is also supported by scientific studies. Stress helps ‘wake-up’ the HSV virus so the more stress you experience the more frequent outbreaks of cold sores you can expect. There are some great ways to reduce your levels of stress, it’s good to find something you enjoy as this will be easier to practice on a regular basis. Here are some top tips for reducing stress:
* Avoid excess caffeine, alcohol and nicotine
* Get more and better sleep
* Mindfulness meditation
* Aerobic exercise such as swimming, cycling or jogging
* Keep a diary and write down your thoughts
* Manage your time and organize your days thoroughly and ahead of time
* Spend time with family and friends
#4 – Cool the Area Down To help provide some relief, reduce swelling and redness you can apply some ice or a cold-pack to your cold sore. It’s important to never apply ice or an ice-pack directly to your skin, make sure to wrap the ice or ice-pack in a cloth or paper towels before applying to your skin. You can apply the cold for 5-10 minutes at a time, a few times per day.
#5 – Lysine Lysine is a nutrient that can be consumed as a supplement or it can be applied topically as an ointment or cream. Lysine is great for treating cold sores, and it’s recommended you apply the ointment or cream to your cold sore every 2 hours for 10-11 days.
#6 – Give Your Immune System a Helping Hand Cold sores are far more likely to happen if your immune system happens to be weakened or is not functioning optimally. There are plenty of things to do to keep your immune system working strong, here are some top tips:
* Aerobic exercise
* Keeping good gut health
* Don’t smoke or drink alcohol
* Maintain your optimal body weight
* Get the proper amount of quality sleep
* Eat healthy
* Eat foods rich in vitamin C
* Reduce stress
#7 – Apple Cider Vinegar Apple cider vinegar is an effective remedy for a myriad of ailments, and it can also help with cold sores. Apple cider vinegar works as a treatment for cold sores because of its ability to kill viruses and bacteria. Apple cider vinegar is quite strong so it’s a good idea to dilute it with some water. You can apply this to your cold sore once or twice per day. If it stings or hurts too much when you apply it to your cold sore, this means you need to dilute the vinegar more.
#8 – Tea Tree Oil Tea tree oil is anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and can help kill viruses as well. If you enjoy the smell of tea tree oil this is a great remedy. Tea tree oil is quite potent and strong, that’s why it’s a good idea to dilute it with a carrier like olive or coconut oil before applying to your cold sore. You can apply tea tree oil once or twice per day. If the tea tree oil stings or causes you discomfort when applying to your cold sore, this means you need to dilute the mixture more.
#9 – Propolis Propolis is a compound that comes from the production of honey, it is essentially a mixture of bee saliva and beeswax. Propolis is often used as a natural remedy for treating wounds and open sores on the skin, it’s anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties make it great for treating cold sores.
#10 – Petroleum Jelly Although petroleum jelly isn’t considered a remedy, it can do a few things to help you heal your cold sore. Petroleum jelly is known to ease discomfort, prevent cracking and work as a protective barrier against any further irritants. It can also help reduce dryness by keeping the area moisturized, so it’s good to keep around when you have a cold sore to help with the symptoms.
Using natural remedies is usually a healthier alternative to over the counter or prescription medications, and there are plenty available for treating your cold sores. Although it’s important to remember that building up your immune system is the best thing you can do to stop cold sores from attacking in the first place. All it takes is a few lifestyle and dietary changes and cold sores could be history.
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Cold Sores References and Cold Sore Information
Science Direct (Scientific Study): https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S094471131180019X
Healthline Magazine: https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/cold-sore-remedies#lemon-balm
Pub Med (Scientific Study): https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21726482/
Healthline Magazine: https://www.healthline.com/health/lysine-for-cold-sore#dosage
Pub Med (Scientific Study): https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29224370/
National Library of Medicine (Scientific Study): https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11338678/
National Library of Medicine (Scientific Study): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4750782