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.
Per medicalnewstoday.com, 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
Lip balm 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.
Aloe vera 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!