If you’ve ever been cursed with a cold sore, you know how embarrassing it can be.
And, if you haven’t had one yet, it doesn’t mean you are not infected with the cold sore virus. In fact, there’s a pretty good chance you have it. You just don’t know it.
What Is a Cold Sore?
Cold sores are small blisters on the lip and around the mouth. In most cases, the skin around the blisters is inflamed (red and sore).
The sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus.
The virus is usually spread when you touch a cold sore directly, such as with kissing. You can also get the virus through indirect contact by sharing towels, eating utensils, razors, lipsticks/lip balms, a toothbrush, or a drink with an infected person.
It’s important that you know there is no cure yet for the herpes simplex virus. You can treat the symptoms and you can boost your immune system to prevent outbreaks, but the virus will remain in your body. Researchers are working on a cure, though!
It’s estimated that about 90% of adults across the globe would test positive for the herpes simplex virus. While some people have to deal with recurring cold sore breakouts, most will likely never show any symptoms.
The symptoms accompanying cold sores include pain around your mouth and on your lips, sometimes accompanied by a fever and a sore throat. In some cases, the pain can be unbearable, so it’s best to nip the sores in the bud.
7 Home Remedies for Cold Sores
Some of the following seven home remedies can reduce the inflammation and pain that come with cold sores and some can shorten the breakout’s duration or even prevent flare-ups.
1. Lip Balm
Use lip balm with at least one percent lemon balm. Apply the balm directly on the sore and surrounding areas. If your lip balm comes in a tube, use a cotton swab to apply it to the cold sore (to prevent spreading infection on re-use of the tube).
2. Peppermint Essential Oil
Apply peppermint oil on the cold sore and the lips a few times a day. Don’t ingest the oil. If it irritates the affected area, discontinue use immediately.
3. Cold Compress
Cold compresses can reduce pain and inflammation when applied to the affected area. Simply place a cold compress with ice on the sore. Make sure you throw out or thoroughly disinfect the compress after use.
4. Licorice Root
Licorice root has antiviral properties. The powder of this dried root can be mixed with petroleum jelly and applied directly to sores.
Drinking echinacea tea helps boost the immune system. It will also fight the virus and help to repair cells.
6. Vitamin-Rich Foods
Eat foods rich in vitamin E, such as nuts, leafy greens, and whole wheat items, and vitamin C, such as guava, oranges, berries, broccoli, and spinach.
Vitamin C helps fight the infection, while vitamin E helps to repair damaged skin cells and grow new ones.
Last but not least, try to stay stress-free. I know this isn’t easy, thanks to social stigma associated with a cold sore. But, it goes a long way in preventing them. If you’re going through a stressful time, consider taking a yoga or meditation class.
By reducing stress, eating healthy, and using some of the above-mentioned home remedies, you can quickly free yourself from the embarrassment that goes hand in hand with a cold sore.
“Cold Sores,” MedlinePlus; https://medlineplus.gov/coldsores.html.
“10 Home Remedies for Cold Sores,” HowStuffWorks, January 15, 2007; http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/home-remedies/home-remedies-for-cold-sores7.htm.
“Cold sore,” Mayo Clinic, May 15, 2015; http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cold-sore/basics/alternative-medicine/con-20021310?p=1.