It is surprising and distressing how each time you have this big meeting coming up or have a wedding to attend, you have to deal with those unsightly painful, small blisters appearing around the lips and outer edges of the mouth. Cold sores or recurrent herpes labialis are characterized by the small, painful red and brown blisters filled with fluid and pus that usually occur on the lips, gums, or roof of the mouth. Caused by the herpes simplex 1 virus, these fever blisters on lips and mouth are contagious, unlike canker sores.
They usually lie dormant in the body and become active later when something triggers it, like stress, irregular sleep patterns, common cold or flu. There is no cure for cold sores, but there are many natural cold sore remedies that you can use to reduce the severity and frequency of them.
Cold Sore Remedies
Although cold sores do clear up in about seven to ten days, they can be quite painful. There are many remedies for cold sores in the mouth and lips. Here is a list of some medications and home remedies for cold sore cure.
Before the advent of those deadly cold sores there is a slight tingling in the affected area. Try rubbing aloe vera juice on the affected area. You need to keep in mind that this home remedy is especially effective if used at the first sign of a cold sore and is effective in keeping the sore from blossoming.
Vaseline or other lip balms can help ease cracking and dryness. They soften the scabs on the sores, thus providing relief from pain or bleeding.
The essential amino acid L-lysine is known to prevent and lessen the duration of cold sores. Lysine inhibits the virus's ability to replicate itself and inhibits the spread of the herpes simplex virus. You can take Lysine as soon as you feel the tingle of a cold sore coming on by either in-taking lysine supplements or using a lysine ointment. Use the lysine ointment three times a day to prevent the cold sore from developing. Lysine is also present in foods like yogurt which can help relieve you of the fever blisters.
One of the easy cold sore home remedies is the use of cornstarch. Applying cornstarch paste on the affected area can provide relief from the painful cold sores and speed up the healing process.
A simple remedy for easing the pain of the cold sore is to rub an ice cube on it for a few minutes, especially before its onset. Applying ice every day for around ten minutes to an hour on the cold sores can prevent the movement of the virus from the nerve to the skin.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Lemon balm uses include antiviral properties that are not only known to reduce the painful swelling and other symptoms to speed up the healing process, but are also helpful in preventing the repeated occurrences of these blisters.
To numb the pain of the cold sores you can try mixing some spirits of camphor and dabbing it on the painful sore with a cotton ball. Other numbing agents for cold sores include tetracaine, benzocaine, lidocaine, benzyl alcohol and phenol.
Certain herbs are effective in treating cold sores. For example, topical application of a mint known as Melissa officinalis can speed healing of the sore, often within a few days. You can also try using a tincture of myrrh to relieve the pain. The herb chamomile is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and is an excellent treatment for sores of the mucous membrane. Another great home remedy for a cold sore is tea, where tea tree oil, herbal sage, violet extracts and ginger powder are added.
Steep an ordinary tea bag in boiling water for a few minutes and let it cool a bit. Then apply these warm tea bags to the lesions for 30 minutes. The antiviral properties of the tannic acid present in the tea will allow the sores to crust over and heal completely in a few days.
Grapefruit Seed Extract
Mix a few drops of grapefruit seed extract with aloe vera or olive oil, and dab it on to the sore.
Using zinc either topically or consuming zinc tablets are reported to reduce the duration of cold sores and speed healing. Zinc lozenges can boost the immune system and may also help treat cold sores. However, it is essential that you do not intake more than 15 mg for more than a week or so without medical supervision.
Over-The-Counter (OTC) Medications
These are primarily palliative in nature and are meant to provide relief from the symptoms of cold sores such as pain, itching, and burning. For example ,products containing the docosanol compound have an inhibitory effect on the herpes virus and help to limit both the duration and severity of cold sores.
Preventing Cold Sores
Although these simple home remedies for cold sores may be effective in treating cold sores, you can also prevent the disease by following these simple measures. Here is how to prevent cold sores.
- Avoid kissing someone with cold sores or having sex with a person affected by genital herpes.
- Exposure to sun triggers one in four cases of cold sores. Therefore, use a sunscreen on your lips and other susceptible areas.
- Avoid sharing towels, razors or utensils with someone who has cold sores.
- You need to replace your toothbrush when you feel the tingling sensation at the outbreak of an attack, after the blister breaks and when the sore is gone to avoid re-occurrence of the sores.
- Wash your hands after touching the sores.
- Try taking the herbs echinacea and viscum album to boost the immune system.
- Avoid salty and acidic foods.
- Foods high in arginine such as chocolates, peanuts, grains, peas, oatmeal and whole-wheat should be restricted.
More than being painful, cold sores are actually a social embarrassment. The best course of action is to use these cold sore remedies to reduce the pain and discomfort as well as speed up the healing process.