Table of Contents
- What Is a Cold Sore?
- How Do You Get Cold Sores?
- Cold Sore Symptoms
- When to See Your Doctor
- The Best Cold Sore Medicine
- Home Remedies for Cold Sores
- Other Advice to Prevent Cold Sores
What Is a Cold Sore?
Cold sores are also known as fever blisters.
They’re groups of small blisters on the lip and around the mouth.
The skin that surrounds the blisters is oftentimes red, swollen, and sore.
These blisters might break open and leak out fluid.
They will then develop a scab after a few days.
Your cold sores will usually heal in no longer than two weeks.
How Do You Get Cold Sores?
Cold sores occur because of the herpes simplex virus.
The virus comes in two varieties, HSV-1 and HSV-2.
Both of these viruses may result in sores around the mouth and on the genitals.
The herpes simplex virus is usually transmitted from person to person.
It can come from kissing them or sharing utensils or razors.
Cold Sore Symptoms
A cold sore usually goes through the following stages:
- Tingling and Itching
Most people will feel an itching, burning, or tingling sensation around their lips for a day or so before the actual sore occurs.
Small fluid-filled blisters usually break out along the border, where the outside edge of the lips meets the skin of the face. You can also get cold sores around the nose or on your cheeks.
- Oozing and Crusting
The small blisters may combine together, then burst open. After they burst, the shallow sores will ooze liquid and crust over.
The signs and symptoms will be different from person to person.
They depend on whether it’s your first outbreak or a recurrence.
They can last for many days, and the blisters can take two to four weeks to completely heal.
When you get a recurrence, it’ll typically appear at the same spot each time.
They’ll be less severe than the initial outbreak.
During your first outbreak, you may experience:
- Painful, eroded gums
- Sore throat
- Muscle aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
Children under five years of age may have cold sores inside their mouths, which are commonly mistaken for canker sores.
Canker sores only involve the mucous membrane, and do not come about as a result of the herpes simplex virus.
When to See Your Doctor
Cold sores will generally get better without any treatment.
You should see your doctor if:
- You have a weakened immune system.
- Your cold sores don’t heal within two weeks.
- Your symptoms are severe.
- You have frequent recurrences of cold sores.
- You experience irritation in your eyes.
The Best Cold Sore Medicine
You can use prescription cream on your cold sores.
Penciclovir cream is an antiviral cream that can reduce your healing time by one or two days.
This cream works especially well if the sore was triggered by sunlight exposure.
It will also help take away the pain, itching, burning, and tenderness of your sores.
Home Remedies for Cold Sores
If you want to know how to quickly get rid of cold sores, then read on.
The following list provides cold sore remedies that you can do yourself at home.
L-lysine is an amino acid that stops the replication of the HSV virus.
It can be applied to your cold sores as a cream or ointment.
You can also purchase it in the form of supplements that will prevent outbreaks.
With respect to the dosage, it is good to follow the directions on the package or consult with your physician.
Some cold sore remedies can be achieved with things that you already have around the house.
HSV thrives in wet and warm places. That’s why cold sores around the mouth are so common.
To stop the virus before it has a chance to spread, you can put ice directly on the sores.
By applying this technique, you can sometimes prevent the cold sore from surfacing entirely.
You should apply the ice cube directly to the sore, and allow it to melt away.
Repeat this process every 10 to 15 minutes for a couple of hours.
You can use rubbing alcohol as another type of cold sore treatment.
It will dry up the sores and prevent the replication of the virus.
You should use single-use wipes because they will minimize any recontamination.
You might also try using cotton swabs or Q-tips.
Simply hold a swab soaked in rubbing alcohol against the sore until it stops stinging.
You should use a moisturizer after you apply the alcohol.
Most people use 70% isopropyl alcohol for this treatment.
Some recommend an even stronger form.
Garlic is a natural antimicrobial.
It can be directly applied to cold sores to reduce the swelling and speed up their healing.
If you apply the garlic before the sores form, you might be able to prevent them altogether.
The easiest way to use garlic is to buy it in paste form.
You should throw away any unused garlic paste to prevent reinfection.
Another method is to slice fresh garlic and hold it against the cold sore.
You should hold it there until it stops stinging.
Garlic juice also works well.
Aloe Vera Gel
Many people say that aloe vera gel will dry up your blisters and heal them faster.
You can pour a small amount of the gel into a clean container, and apply it with a fresh cotton swab.
You should use only high-quality organic gel.
This way, you will avoid the chemicals and other contaminants that are found in many store-bought aloe products.
Hydrogen peroxide is usually used to disinfect abrasions.
However, it also has the ability to help dry up and heal your cold sores.
Simply pour a capful of the liquid into a small bowl.
Then soak a clean cotton swab or other applicator with the liquid.
Hold it against your cold sore until it stops stinging.
You should repeat this process as necessary to dry up the blisters and decrease swelling.
You should use a dilution of 3-10% to avoid burning your skin.
Remember to never take hydrogen peroxide internally. It is toxic.
Have you ever noticed that you almost never see pests or fungi on an oregano plant in your garden?
The reason is that the oils in oregano are antimicrobial.
If you apply the oil to your cold sores, you can help reduce swelling and promote faster healing.
The oil will kill the virus, inside of the blisters.
Simply apply a couple of drops of oregano oil directly to the cold sores using a Q-tip.
Remember to discard the applicator after you use it, so that you can prevent reinfection.
Lemon balm is a great way to get rid of cold sores.
It’s a member of the mint family.
It is easy to grow, and the leaves can be used to produce lemon balm tea.
Just soak a fresh cotton swab in water infused with lemon balm.
Then apply it regularly to cleanse your cold sores and help them heal faster.
Used Tea Bags
This old home remedy can be used on infections of all kinds.
Simply apply warm, moist pre-brewed tea bags to the location of your sores.
Petroleum jelly works in the opposite way that rubbing alcohol does: it softens the skin that is irritated due to the cold sore — because it contains natural emollients.
The thickness of the jelly also helps protect the sore from bacteria, which reduces the risk of getting a bacterial infection.
An infection can make your sore last longer.
You should use clean fingers to apply a coat of the jelly directly on the sore.
Then apply the jelly to the sore throughout the day until it goes away.
Vanilla is a popular food additive.
But it also has powerful anti-infection properties, which can help heal the viral infection that’s responsible for cold sores.
In addition, vanilla extract reduces the pain of cold sores because it is a natural anti-inflammatory.
You need to make sure that you’re using real vanilla, not an artificial form.
Take 100% pure vanilla extract, and pour a couple of drops onto a cotton swab.
Apply it directly to the sore, and completely coat it. Repeat every six hours.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is good for drying out different types of skin blemishes.
It works quickly, and it has antiseptic, antifungal, antiviral, and antibiotic features.
Reportedly, it can reduce the size of your cold sore by 50% overnight.
It also helps prevent it from getting bigger, and it reduces pain because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
Just apply the oil onto your cold sore by using a cotton swab twice a day.
Sea salt can sting a little bit when you apply it, which is especially true for people with sensitive skin.
However, it is extremely useful for decreasing the duration of your cold sore, and the pain that comes with it.
This kind of salt has minerals in it that help repair skin that’s inflamed and broken.
Just make a solution out of one teaspoon of sea salt and eight ounces of warm water.
Stir well to dissolve the salt, then use a cotton swab to directly apply it to the sore.
You could use it as a mouthwash to reach any part of the cold sore that’s internal.
This very powerful astringent helps dry out cold sores and speedily heal them.
First, you need to test it out somewhere else on your body to make sure that you’re not sensitive to it.
If this test turns out well, then put some of it on a cotton ball and apply it directly to the sore.
You can use it up to twice a day.
Licorice has glycyrhizic acid in it, which helps counteract the virus that causes a cold sore.
It also has anti-inflammatory properties, and it can help alleviate pain and discomfort.
You can apply it directly to your sore.
Simply use a half teaspoon of petroleum jelly, mixed with one tablespoon of licorice-root extract or powder.
Apply this mixture to your sore, and let it sit overnight.
Milk can be very soothing.
It contains L-lysine, which can help inhibit arginine (an amino acid that can result in an outbreak).
By inhibiting this amino acid, it can quickly heal your sore.
Milk can also alleviate pain and discomfort.
Just apply the milk directly onto the sore, and hold it in place for at least five minutes.
Peppermint oil can help kill the virus that’s causing your cold sore.
It’s good to start applying the oil as soon as you notice that you’re developing a cold sore.
Use a cotton swab and an oil that’s all-natural and high-quality.
Apply the oil directly to the sore after you wash the area with water.
You should also use some water to dilute the oil before you apply it.
Echinacea boosts your immune system and its defenses.
And even though this information isn’t proven, it could help prevent cold sore outbreaks — which can occur when the immune system is weakened.
You can use the Echinacea in the form of a tea.
Vitamins C and E
Vitamin C has been shown to boost the count of white blood cells.
White blood cells can help defend the body.
When you get an infection, these cells move into action.
They help quell the herpes virus.
When it’s topically applied, Vitamin E has been shown to relieve the pain and discomfort of cold sores.
It can also help decrease scarring.
The best way to get these vitamins is through your diet, but there are also oral supplements.
Foods that are rich in vitamin C include:
- Red berries
- Red and green bell peppers
Foods that are rich in vitamin E include:
- Leafy greens
- Whole grains
When directly applied, cornstarch can help relieve the itchy, burning pain of a sore.
It neutralizes the sore’s pH, as the virus lives in an acidic environment.
To get relief and shorten the duration of a cold sore, just make a cornstarch paste.
Take 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, and place it in a small bowl.
Mix in a teaspoon of water.
Add more water until you reach a paste-like consistency.
Apply it directly to the cold sore before you go to sleep, and rinse it off with water in the morning.
Repeat every night until the sore goes away.
Exposure to light can help contribute to your outbreak.
When you’re going to be outside for any extended period of time, apply sunscreen to your face.
Also, apply lip balm that has an SPF value of at least 15.
Zinc is a trace mineral that’s needed for many important functions in the body.
Foods that are rich in zinc include beef, pork, shellfish, peanuts, and legumes.
Researchers state that when people apply zinc oxide cream to cold sores, they heal more speedily than those who use a placebo cream.
Also, those who use a solution containing zinc oxide have a decrease in symptoms and experience the sores for less time.
But you should be careful. Zinc can interact with certain antibiotics and drugs.
Propolis is a natural resin that bees make to build their hives.
It’s made from the buds of trees, bee wax, and other bee byproducts.
When used in a topical solution, the substance causes cold sores to heal quickly and reduces some of the pain.
Of course, aspirin can help to reduce your pain.
But research shows that 125 mg of aspirin a day can cut the time a herpes infection remains active — by 50%.
If you have some red wine lying around the house, then you can try this folk remedy.
Put a little bit in a bowl, and let the liquid sit until it evaporates.
Coat the sore with the solidified dregs.
The theory is that the resveratrol (the antioxidant in the wine) can relieve the inflammation.
Studies have shown that people who tend to get cold sores often have low levels of vitamin B12.
If you take B12 supplements, then it may reduce your chances for getting the sores.
Natural sources of the vitamin include shellfish, crab, beef, dairy, and eggs.
Other Advice to Prevent Cold Sores
Lower Your pH
HSV thrives in a warm, moist, acidic environment.
If you find that you’re getting outbreaks more and more frequently, they might be caused by low pH.
This occurrence is known as acidosis.
You can try some of these tips to help neutralize your body’s pH and prevent the possibility of future cold sores:
- Cut down on high-glycemic foods, including potatoes, breads, pastas, and other grains. Increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables to around 35% of your total calorie intake. Avoid consuming high-fat and processed foods, which can make the body more acidic.
- Make sure that you get enough alkalizing minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, and potassium. You can get them from food or supplements.
- Reduce your consumption of processed sugars. Avoid high-fructose corn syrup as much as possible.
Stress can be the cause of frequent outbreaks of cold sores.
You can try some of these ways to help you relax:
- Take a warm bath. Try adding a few drops of lavender essential oil and some Epsom salt to your bathwater.
- Drink some chamomile tea. This herb is known for its calming effects on your body and mind. You can also try massaging a drop or two of chamomile or lavender oils over your temples, along the back of your jaw, on the insides of your wrists, and on the bottoms of your feet.
- Drink matcha tea. Green tea has been used throughout history to calm the body and mind. It also will promote alertness.
Quarantine Your Sores
A good piece of advice for managing cold sores is to keep them quarantined.
Simply follow the following tips:
- Don’t touch the sore with your fingers or any other part of your body. Anything that comes into contact with a cold sore should be immediately thrown away or sanitized. HSV can be spread through contact with bodily fluids. It is extremely contagious. It lives anywhere there is moisture and warmth.
- After you apply anything to the area of the cold sores, throw away the applicator. You need to make sure that everyone who comes into contact with these materials knows that they’re contaminated.
- After your outbreak has healed, remember to throw away your toothbrushes and ChapStick. Also, throw away anything else that might have come into contact with the sores.
- Never share utensils or food with others if you’re prone to cold sores. Even when you’re not experiencing an outbreak, you can spread HSV to other people.
To maximize these benefits, you should try to use a combination of these methods to help cure and prevent your cold sores from occurring.
Also, all of the remedies on the list won’t necessarily work for you.
You need to experiment with them to see which ones will work.