Fever blisters are commonly known as cold sores, though the exact medical term for this condition is herpes labialis or oral herpes. It is a viral infection caused by the herpes simplex virus that enters the body through the nose and the mouth. The virus can remain dormant for several months to years on the nerves of the skin, before causing the appearance of some small, red or brown-colored lesions on the mouth, especially on the upper lip.
This viral disease is characterized by remission periods, during which the lesions or sores disappear. But they can appear again due to the reactivation of the virus. What exactly causes this reactivation is not known properly. However, factors like fever, cold, infections, a weakened immune system, high level of arginine, stress, and exposure to sunlight, are supposed to play an important role in the reactivation of the virus.
How to Treat Fever Blisters?
Cold sores are often treated with antiviral medications. These medications can accelerate the healing process, and reduce the severity of the outbreak. The oral antiviral medications that are used for treating this condition are, acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir, while denavir is used for topical application.
These antiviral medications have been approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) of the United States. It has been found that the frequency of cold sores can be reduced by taking l-lysine supplementation. Increasing the intake of zinc, iron, and vitamin A, and C can help reduce the severity of an outbreak.
Home Remedies for Fever Blisters
The simplest, yet the most effective home remedy for this condition is ice. The application of ice can prevent the development and the spread of the blisters to other parts of the body. Certain herbs like licorice, lemon balm, aloe vera, tea, chamomile, and echinacea are some effective herbal remedies for this condition. Lemon balm is known for its antiviral properties, while licorice can prevent viral replication. Therefore, licorice can be applied on the affected area to accelerate the healing of the sores. The herb lemon balm is suitable for both internal and external applications.
Echinacea is a herb that can strengthen the immune system to fight the virus that causes cold sores. It can also protect the skin and the mucous membrane from the effects of viral enzymes. You can also apply tea bags on the blisters, as tea contains a compound known as tannic acid, which has antiviral properties. Olive oil extract also has antiviral properties. On the other hand, chamomile can be used for relieving the inflammation associated with the blisters. For relieving the itching and the burning sensation, a paste of cornstarch and neem can be applied on the affected area.
Foods to Avoid
Some studies have shown that arginine, an essential amino acid, may be associated with the reactivation of the herpes simplex virus. Therefore, it is important to avoid or reduce the consumption of certain foods that contain a high level of arginine. Peas, whole wheat, grains, oatmeal, and chocolates are some important source of this essential amino acid.
If the blisters do not heal even after taking sufficient care, or if you experience this condition frequently and if it is accompanied by eye irritation and fever, then consult a certified physician for proper treatment. At the same time, try to control the triggering factors like fatigue, stress, and exposure to bright sunlight and cold weather, in order to reduce the frequency of cold sores.
Disclaimer: This HolisticZine article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.