Cold sores or fever blisters are a common ailment that affects many people worldwide. Since they are basically a viral infection, there is no single cure that can eliminate this painful and unattractive sore, but there are home remedies and tips for making it last shorter and with the minimal discomfort.
About cold sores
Since they are also called fever blisters, cold sores are popularly associated with fever due to cold or flu. However, this is not necessarily true, as cold sores can appear even when there is no fever or other health ailments.
Cold sores are usually associated with a drop in the immune system. They are caused by herpes simplex virus or HPV, which infects a person and if the immune response is not adequate, it can result in a cold sore.
These sores usually appear on the lips and around the mouth. Approximately one day before the breakout, there is a mild tingling or burning sensation that anticipates the sore. The sore itself appears as a blister or a group of blisters that gradually fill with clear fluid. After a few days, the blisters burst, releasing the fluid, which is considered to be the most contagious. After this, a small crust usually forms to protect the sore, and it falls off within several days. If the crust or the scab is not picked at, it does not leave a scar.
Cold sore remedies and tips
The best way to prevent a cold sore is to frequently wash the hands and to avoid touching mouth and nose. However, if the infection does occur, it is best if treated even before the breakout, when the area begins to mildly burn and tingle. It helps to apply some ice wrapped in a clean cloth five times a day, or to apply an antiviral ointment.
Antiviral medications help prevent outbreaks and stop the spreading of the infection. They also shorten the sore’s duration.
There are also remedies that can be applied to prevent cracking and bleeding of the sore and alleviate the pain. Over-the-counter medications include Blistex, Zilactin, Carmex and Herpecin-L.
It helps sometimes to apply some paraffin to the sore. It locks in the virus and at the same time it nourishes the sore. Zinc paste is also believed to be very effective. Some people even apply toothpaste and others swear by baking soda, mixed with some water to form a smooth thick paste.
The sore needs to cleaned regularly, using warm water and mild soap.
It is also important to allow the body heal the sore on its own. In order to do this, the body needs to be rested and nourished, and the immune system should be boosted by eating fresh fruit and vegetables rich in vitamins, drinking plenty of fluids and possibly taking vitamin and mineral supplements.