Cold sores are caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 which is usually present in miniscule amounts in the nerve cells in the body.
Usually dormant, the virus is activated by conditions like exposure to the sun, common cold, flu, anxiety or stress etc. This can in turn lead to the formation of big, painful and contagious sores that are extremely uncomfortable to deal with.
Natural Remedies for Cold Sores
Cold sores can be treated effectively with a variety of home remedies before being treated by a doctor. So if you are suffering from the condition, here are some effective natural remedies that would help you deal with the blisters in a timely manner. These remedies would help treat the cold sore and prevent recurrences, or at least give you temporary relief until you see the doctor.
Keep the Cold Sore Covered
Cold sores are prone to secondary bacterial infection. Therefore, keeping them covered by either a local anesthetic ointment (preferably one that contains benzoic acid) or even petroleum jelly can keep a cold sore from worsening. Covering a cold sore would also help ease the pain that accompanies it.
Don’t attempt to cover a cold sore with makeup or other artificial products. The chemicals present in the products can aggravate the blister and make it grow. Don’t share your makeup products with others as the infection can easily spread from one person to another.
Don’t Touch, Squeeze, Pinch or Pick A Cold Sore
Refrain from prodding a cold sore. In addition to breaking the sore, you will spread the infection to other parts of the body. Make sure you wash your hands properly after touching a cold sore.
Refrain from touching the other parts of a body immediately after touching a cold sore. Keep a hand sanitizer to cleanse your hands in case you cannot wash them. Refrain from sharing towels, cups, makeup products and other accessories that can easily cause the infection to spread.
It’s time to Change your Toothbrush
Toothbrushes can harbor bacteria and viruses, including the Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 which is responsible for the formation of cold sores. So changing your toothbrush every once in a while can help you stay safe from cold sores.
It is considered wise to change your toothbrush once after the onset of the infection and change it again after the blisters disappear. This way you can prevent recurrences that can be triggered by the bacteria present in the toothbrush you used to brush your teeth during the infection.
Prevent Over Exposure to the Sun
Sometimes cold sores can be caused by the UV rays of the sun. The best way to take care of sun induced cold sores is to protect your lips from over exposure. And this can be done by applying a good quality sunscreen over the lips before you step out. Opt for lipsticks that contain sunscreen or special sunscreen lotions designated for the lips. Choose a product that contains a SPF factor of 15 or above for best results.
Stay away from Cold Sore Triggers
One of the best ways to stay safe frocold soresis to avoid the triggers that can cause them. These include stress, fever, common cold, flu, viral infections, acidic foods, salty foods, sunburns, fatigue, trauma, weakened immune system, menstruation in women and food allergies etc.
Once you have found out what causes these cold sores, you can easily stay away from the triggers and find out ways to curb them as well.
Opt for Pain Killers
If the sores are too painful to handle, the doctor may prescribe painkillers to subdue the pain and treat the infection.
Common medications prescribed for cold sores include ibuprofen, aspirin and acetaminophen etc. These medications can be obtained over the counter as well.
Boost your Immune System
A strong immune system is necessary to fight off any kind of bacterial or viral infection, including cold sores. Therefore, it is considered best to cleanse your body off toxins so that your immune system garners enough strength to fight off the Herpes Simplex virus.
Add plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet. These foods would help strengthen a weak immune system and thus assist the body in getting rid of the infection responsible for the cold sores. Some of the foods that you can incorporate into your existing diet include brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, garlic, chili, garlic, ginger, beans, sprouted seeds, onions and vegetable oils etc.
Increase Your Intake of Lysine
The Herpes simplex virus thrives on a protein called Arginine which it uses as a building block to multiply in the body. Curbing the amount of arginine would therefore result in an environment unsuitable for the virus to multiply and cause infection (resulting in cold sores). And the best way to do this is to increase the Lysine content in the body.
Lysine is another protein in the body that actually replaces some of the arginine present in the cells. This would prevent the viral cells from multiplying. In the absence of enough arginine to multiply, the Herpes simplex virus would mostly retreat back, thereby preventing an infection.
It is considered wise to eat foods high in Lysine if you have cold sores. Excellent examples include cheese, milk, yogurt and other dairy products, and meats. On the other hand, it is considered wise to stay away from foods that contain high levels of arginine during this period. Foods high in arginine include nuts, grains, seeds and chocolates. Some individuals also opt for Lysine supplements (in the form of capsules) to prevent an outbreak.
Maintain a Non Acidic Environment
The herpes simplex virus thrives in acidic conditions. Therefore, even a slight tip of the body’s pH balance could cause a cold sore outbreak. The system is said to become acidic if the pH balance drops below 7. This in turn can cause the herpes virus to multiply and cause cold sores.
Maintaining a slightly alkaline environment is considered essential to fight off cold sores and the virus causing them. So stay away from triggers that could alter the pH balance of your body towards the acid side. These include foods like citrus, tomatoes, vinegar or carbonated soda etc., flu, common cold, fever and even stress.
Some Home Remedies That Would Help Treat Cold Sores
Given below are some home remedies that would help you treat a cold sore and the pain that accompanies it effectively.
Try placing some ice cubes on the cold sore as soon as you spot it. An ice pack would also provide immense relief from the pain and discomfort caused by a cold sore.
You can also opt for cold compresses or super cold smoothies for the same purpose. Refrain from sipping on icy cold juices though for the acid content in the juices can aggravate the infection.
Applying some cold milk to a fever blister can quicken its healing process. You can soak a cotton ball in milk and place it over the sore. This would provide some relief from the pain caused by the cold sore.
Used tea bags can have wonderful effects on painful cold sores. Apply a tea bag over the cold sore for about 15-20 minutes. Wait for an hour or so before placing the tea bag over the sore again.
Repeat the procedure continuously for about 4-5 hours for better results. You can also opt to gently press the warm tea bags on top of the blisters for about 20 minutes to get relief from the pain.
Salt has healing properties and can quicken the healing process of cold sores. Applying some powdered salt over the cold sore can treat the sore and prevent the infection from spreading. Gently press the salt down on the infected area for quicker and more effective results.