Cold sores can be a very unattractive and painful and they are also quite persistent. There are several home remedies and simple treatments that can be applied to alleviate the symptoms of cold sores and shorten their duration.
What are cold sores?
A cold sore is a blister that forms on the lips as a result of an infection by the herpes simplex virus. This virus is virtually anywhere and it can stay dormant for a while after it has penetrated the body. Certain factors trigger the outbreak of the virus which manifests as a cold sore.
A cold sore is usually preceded by a tingling sensation on the lip. After that, a blister forms and it gradually fills with liquid. After a few days the blister breaks and the fluid drains, leaving a crust. Cold sores usually do not leave a scar, although it is possible, especially if the sore has been touched or scratched.
Cold sores usually go away on their own after one or two weeks. However, it is important to touch them, especially if they are oozing, because it is then that they are the most contagious.
Home remedies for cold sores
A cold sore should not be touched or scratched, because it can cause further irritation and also a secondary infection with the virus. The sore should always be clean and dry. After leaning it with a cotton ball soaked in soapy water and pat-drying it with a paper towel, some Vaseline or petroleum jelly can be applied on it to form a protective coating.
If applied soon enough, meaning as soon as the tingling starts, a cold sore can be prevented with benzyl alcohol. Witch hazel applied with a cotton swab has a similar effect on cold sores as benzyl alcohol.
Lysine tablets are believed to be able to prevent a cold sore outbreak or to shorten the duration of active ones. The recommended dosage for active outbreaks is 1000 milligrams three times a day and 500 milligrams once a day can be taken as a form of prevention, especially during times when it is likely to contract the virus (like cold and flu season, stressful periods, dry weather, and similar). There are also lysine ointments that were found to be effective against cold sores.
After the blister bursts and the fluid drains, it can be covered with nail polish or Clearasil to keep it dry and clean.
Adding vitamin B12 supplements to the diet can significantly improve the condition and shorten the duration of a cold sore.
Lemon balm or Melissa officinalis has significant antiviral properties so creams and ointments containing this herb are highly recommended for people who suffer from cold sores.
One of the simplest home treatments for cold sores is tea bag treatment. A moistened black tea bag should be placed on the cold sore for few minutes every hour, especially during the “tingle” period, as it can reduce the extent at which the sore will develop.