Cold sores are a common (and usually harmless) nuisance. Sometimes painful, and often a bit unsightly and embarrassing, we usually want to get rid of them as soon as we notice them.
What Are Cold Sores & What Causes Them?
Cold sores are also known as fever blisters and more notoriously as oral herpes. Per my.clevelandclinic.org
, the typical course of a cold sore is as follows: a tingling/burning sensation occurs on or around the lips, a reddish blister forms within 24 hours, ruptures within 2-3 days, and then scabs over to form a sore. Once the scab falls away after a week or so, the skin might remain red and sensitive for a few days longer. The whole course of cold sores usually comes and goes in 1-2 weeks.
, the source of cold sores is a virus known as herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1), and sometimes HSV-2, which is similar to HSV-1. HSV-1 is highly contagious, as roughly 48 percent of Americans have contracted it; However, the virus usually lies dormant, and, when activated, cold sores are a typical symptom. Other potential symptoms can include a sore throat, difficulty swallowing, and swollen lymph nodes.
Treating Cold Sores
is a common aid in moisturizing the lips and relieving discomfort from dryness and other irritants, and this includes cold sores. Per webmd.com
, applying lip balm directly to the cold sore can bring some pain relief and aid in the healing process. They recommend using a lip balm containing real lemon as an ingredient, for best results.
Tea tree oil
is a natural remedy with properties that are especially useful in treating a cold sore. Per effectiveremedies.com
, tea tree oil has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can be useful in offsetting the effects of various illnesses. Additionally, it possesses a natural antiviral effectiveness, which is helpful in healing cold sores since they are a result of the HSV-1 virus. Mixing tea tree oil with water, applying to gauze or a cotton ball, and then applying this to the affected area each day, can help speed up the healing process.
is a treatment commonly used for many temporary ailments of the skin, such as sunburn, rashes, and cold sores. Per effectiveremedies.com
, its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are useful in treating cold sores. The cooling effects of a topical aloe vera ointment can also alleviate the pain caused by cold sores. Further, aloe vera contains vitamins, minerals, and other substances that help relieve the skin effects of HSV-1 and prevent further cold sores from developing.
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A cool compress
can help relieve the pain that occurs from a cold sore, per my.clevelandclinic.org
. While this remedy isn't likely to help the sore clear up quicker, it can bring worthwhile relief. A clean, cool, and damp washcloth applied directly and gently to the cold sore a few times per day can be a big help, even if it's for just a couple of minutes.
Vitamins C and E
, when used in combination, can make for an effective suppressant of cold sores, as well as the HSV-1 virus that causes them, per webmd.com
. Scientific evidence suggests that Vitamin C helps to suppress the virus, while Vitamin E can help boost the healing process for cold sores. We recommend using a multivitamin to get plenty of both Vitamins C and E.
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While you wait for a cole sore to pass, hopefully one of these treatments can bring you some relief!