Everyone will most likely suffer a cold sore attack at least once in their lifetime. Unlike some infections which the body will fight off in any recurrent attack, cold sores can reoccur several times in a person’s lifetime, depending on the measures employed to prevent cold sore outbreaks.
A herpes simplex virus is the causative agent for cold sores. Once it enters the body, the virus remains a part of you for the rest of your life. The good thing is that it mostly remains dormant. Initial cold sore attacks are the worst. The sores appear in form of blisters under the skin. They tend to appear in areas around the mouth and on the lips. With time, the blisters will burst and form crusts which may last up to 2 terrible weeks.
A dormant cold sore virus can be triggered by factors such as stress, weakened immunity, medications or prolonged exposure to climate conditions such as strong sun. There are several cold sore remedies that can help you ease the symptoms of cold sores.
Best natural cold sore remedies
You have perhaps heard of any one of the many medical applications of this plant, such as removal of plantar warts on the heel. As an anti-inflammatory, it aids in soothing the part of the skin where the cold sores have occurred. There are no sufficient research reports to support this however.
Food that boost immunity
This is perhaps the most strategic of all cold sore remedies. A strong immune system will help deal with active cold sores virus when attack occurs.
The main foods in this category include apple cider vinegar, kimchi and yogurt. Sources of vitamins and minerals such as broccoli, spinach and asparagus can also aid in boosting immunity.
Swollen and reddened cold sores can be eased using lemon balm. It can be very effective in reducing the swelling of infected sores. However, lemon balm will be ineffective in easing pain caused by the sores. You may also find it effective when you want to get rid of razor bumps.
Mineral and vitamin supplements
Vitamin E and C are the most notable natural remedies for cold sore treatment. Specifically, vitamin E aids in easing pain and also helps in repairing the damaged skin. Vitamin C on the other hand helps in boosting immunity and keeping the body well provisioned with oxygen for maximum output. The vitamin is involved in skin health too.
Another notable cold sore-treating mineral is L-Lysine. It is naturally known to inhibit the growth of herpes virus. You can take it in supplements, in measurements of 1g three times a day.
The mineral zinc is known to reduce inflammations and also maintain boosted immune health. In fact, most lozenges used as cold sores medications contain zinc in them. One of the symptoms of zinc deficiency is cold sores.
Being out in the sun for long can trigger a cold sore attack. Ensure that you stay protected by applying a high quality sunscreen on your lips when out in the sun. It is good that you select your sunscreen brand carefully.
Use ice cubes
Icing cold sores reduces the circulation of blood in the affected parts of the skin. As a result, a numbing effect is felt, which reduces both pain and inflammation. It can help in reducing how long sores last. Ice cubes are also very effective in reducing the pain caused by an armpit boil.
Peppermint oil has, for example, been noted to heal cold sores by inhibiting the development of the herpes virus. Vanilla oil on the other hand will reduce the time it takes for a cold sore to heal. It can be applied on the infected part of the skin with a cotton wool and a bandage. Apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil have antibacterial and antiviral benefits but may not be applicable in this case. This is because they cause a burning effect to the skin. They are, however, major considerations when it comes to how to remove skin tags, warts and moles.
Avoid direct contact
Cold sores are extremely contagious. It is best that you keep away from direct contact with infected persons, or healthy ones if you are infected.
Elevated stress works activates a dormant cold sore virus. You are advised to take part in activities such as physical exercises, counselling and other stress management activities.
How to get rid of cold sores with medications
In a clinic, a diagnosis for cold sore virus can be done by a doctor. It involves a blood test, which reveals if the virus is present but not if it is active or not. You might be interested to know that about 90% of adult individuals will test positive with the virus.
While it is not possible to completely get rid of the virus from the body, some medications can be used either to lessen its symptoms or speed up the healing process.
Your doctor may prescribe the medications or you can get over the counter medications to get rid of cold sores.
Menthol and phenol are common over the counter cold sores medications. They producing a numbing sensation and also keep the sores from cracking. For infected or multiple sores, these over the counter medications can be of great effectiveness.
In advanced cold sore stages when a lot of pain is felt, Abreva can be used to relive the pain. Applied severally in a day, the medication also minimizes the time it takes for the sores to heal.
For infected, painful sores, a gel may be required to ease the pain as well as reduce the spread of the infection. The best medicine for this case will be an antiviral, such as Valtrex and Zovirax.
Correct timing in regards to taking the available cold sore medications is very important. You find that viruses work in stages and inhibiting a certain stage of development can make a great difference. Also, some brands of the medications are better assimilated by the body than others. Keeping these factors in mind, the advice from a doctor becomes of much importance.
Your doctor may also find it necessary to prescribe you with other antibacterial medications. You find that bacteria are always there to take the advantage of a weakened or ‘busy’ immune system.
In regards to how to prevent sores, always ensure that you have cleaned your hands after coming into contact with the sores. Avoid touching other parts of the body such as the eyes and genitals. Herpes virus also attacks the genital area and the eyes.
As we mentioned before, cold sores are easily transmitted from one person to another especially after a direct contact. For this reason, avoid sharing lipsticks, toothbrushes, and utensils. This includes avoiding kissing and other forms of oral intimacy with an infected person. Note that spreading the virus increases the chances of a recurring attack. Therefore, maintain personal hygiene and learn all there is in regards to how to treat and prevent cold sores.
Cold sore symptoms and how to prevent them
Cold sore symptoms depend on the particular stages of development the sores are in. It is important to get familiar with them so you can learn how to stop cold sores.
An itchy sensation on the lips is among the first cold sores symptoms to be felt. It will persist until the sores fully invade.
Along with itchiness, a burning sensation like a fever will be felt. This can happen as early as 48 hours before the sores appear.
Within a day prior to a full blown cold sores attack, small blisters filled with fluid will occur along the linings of the lips. The blisters usually form underneath the skin but can be felt as small bumps.
Cracking and oozing of the blisters
In the final stages of cold sore symptoms, the fluid inside the blisters will break free. This is in most cases painful. As the blisters dry off, a scab will form.
These stages and symptoms may take up to 2 weeks before going away completely. Depending on your immunity and the frequency of outbreaks, the severity of attack will differ. First timers find the experience more terrible. Also, people with weakened immunity experience more severe symptoms.
If the cold sore persists more than 2 weeks, you are advised to see a doctor.
Causes of cold sores and how to prevent an outbreak
Their name would have you think that cold sores are caused by cold weather conditions. That actually is not the case. In fact, long hours spent in the sun are a predisposing factor.
Basically, it is a virus that causes cold sores. The virus is transmitted from one person to another. After contamination, it hides in the nervous system, from which it launches attacks once triggered. You will find that some people are more likely to suffer cold sores attacks than others. Professionals think that this is attributed to genetic factors.
Cold sores and canker sores are commonly confused. The most notable difference is that canker sores never appear outside the mouth. It is not hard to find a canker sore on the tongue. In fact, they prefer parts of the mouth such as the tongue, lips and throat. They also are not contagious as cold sores are.
There are no particular causes of cold sores, outside of the original cause of the herpes simplex virus. What we can identify are the predisposing factors that trigger a dormant cold sore virus to be active.
Following are potential triggers for cold sores:
Emotional and mental stress has been known to trigger the cold sore virus. It is for this reason that you are advised to lead ‘fun’ lifestyles and also engage in social activities. In case of chronic stress, therapies will help the most.
Illnesses that will over-engage the body’s immunity system may set loose the cold sore virus. This is common in patients who have just undergone chemotherapy or in HIV patients.
Dental and oral traumas
It is quite surprising that dental traumas and ones sustained on the lips can actually launch a cold sore attack. The actual reason as to why this is so is only vaguely understood.
Exposure to direct sun
Sunscreen is said to be very effective in preventing cold sores that may arise from prolonged exposure to direct sunlight.
If you come into direct contact with an infected person, your chances of developing the sores are high. Patients are most contagious when the sores have burst open.
Cold sore treatment with best medicine; when to call a doctor
Most cold sore attacks are not major health concerns. They will go away in a week or two. However, people with weakened immunity or suffering severe cold sore attacks should receive medical attention. The infection can open up entry points for other infections. For specialized medical treatment, call a doctor should any of the following occur:
- Sores on the mouth and lips that go on for more than a week
- Difficulties in drinking and eating
- A severe fever attack occurs
- A recurrent blister outbreak happens
There are vaccines being developed to aid with treating and preventing cold sores. These efforts have not been notably successful especially for people who have already suffered cold sore outbreaks.
Two weeks of dealing with a cold sore outbreak can prove some of the worst days of your life. Although the outbreak will heal on its own, it may still need medical attention and the intervention of natural and home remedies.
While a doctor will prescribe different medicines to lessen the symptoms and mildness of the attack, it is important that prevention measures be put into place. This will reduce the occurrence of overnight and unexpected cold sore attacks.
Generally, maintain a healthy lifestyle, including eating foods with vitamins for canker sores. This is a more strategic and long term cold sores prevention method to keep yourself cold sore free.