Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus. This viral disease is also known as oral herpes and is characterized by the appearance of some small, painful, red- or brown-colored blisters on the mouth and the lips. It is a contagious disease that can get easily transmitted from one person to another through physical contact with the lesions or the body fluid of the infected person.
The virus responsible for causing the sores usually enters the body through the nose or the mouth, and then settles down on the sensory nerves close to the mouth. The virus can remain dormant for several days to years before causing those blisters. Oral herpes is a recurrent disease, and is characterized by remission periods when the sores disappear. The reasons behind a sudden outbreak or recurrence are not known with certainty, though some factors like fever, infections, stress, cold, exposure to sun, and a high level of arginine are believed to be responsible for activating the virus.
Natural Treatment for Cold Sores
There is no permanent cure for this viral disease. Antiviral medications are usually used to reduce the severity, frequency, and the duration of the sores. However, some simple home remedies can also reduce the pain and inflammation caused by the blisters, and accelerate the healing process.
One of the simplest home remedies for this condition is ice. You can rub an ice cube on the blisters, in order to heal them quickly. If you apply ice on the affected area, it can help prevent the spread of the blisters to other parts of the body. Herbs like licorice and lemon balm can also be used for treating this condition. Licorice is beneficial for preventing the replication of the virus, and can be used topically on the blisters.
Lemon balm contains polyphenols, which are known for their antiviral properties. It is suitable for both internal and external applications. Internally, it can be taken as lemon balm tea. Echinacea is another herb which can be beneficial for this condition. This herb strengthens the immune system, and enhances its ability to fight infectious diseases. It can also protect collagen, the scleroprotein found in the skin and the mucous membrane. This herb can protect the skin from the damaging effects of the viral enzymes.
Chamomile has anti-inflammatory properties, and is an excellent herb for treating sores of the mucous membrane. Olive oil extract can also be used for alleviating any kind of viral infections. Tea tree oil has antiseptic properties, and so, it can be used for reducing the inflammation caused by the sores. For preventing the cracking of the affected skin and the sores, petroleum jelly can be used. You can also apply a paste of cornstarch and neem for relieving the itching and the burning sensation caused by the sores.
Apart from these, l-lysine (an important amino acid) is widely used for treating oral herpes. Lysine is effective in accelerating the process of recovery and reducing the frequency of the disease. Therefore, it is important to include sufficient amounts of lysine-containing foods, like milk, fish, potatoes, corn, and chicken in your diet.
However, another amino acid, known as arginine, is believed to be associated with the sudden activation of the herpes virus. Peas, grains, whole wheat, chocolates, and oatmeal are some important dietary sources of arginine, and so, their consumption should be restricted during an outbreak of cold sores. On the other hand, some vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, vitamin C, and zinc can help accelerate the healing process of the sores, and strengthen the immune system.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.