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Natural Treatments for Cold Sores

Updated on November 27, 2014

Introduction

A slight tingling on your upper lip, itchiness, and later, a painful red sore. A cold sore. People who suffer from cold sores know these feelings well. When you’re afflicted with the virus that causes them, you will know how irritating, inconvenient, and sometimes embarrassing this condition can be.

There’s somewhat of a stigma associated with cold sores. They can be unsightly in appearance, and for many people, they’re associated with sexually transmitted diseases or poor hygiene. But the reality is that anyone can suffer from cold sores, contracting the virus from objects, surfaces, or people.

Treating cold sores doesn’t have to be as hard as you think, and there are a number of effective natural options that can reduce the symptoms, or even stop cold sores from breaking out.

What Is A Cold Sore?

Cold sores are skin lesions that can occur on the lips, inside the mouth, the nose, or even on your fingers. A cold sore is characterized initially by an itching under the skin, which turns to redness as the virus advances before an open sore appears on the site of the viral activity. Cold sores usually last for up to 10 days and in the final stages, a scab will form before completely healing.

Cold sores are not only embarrassing because of their prominent appearance, but also because many people assume them to be an STD. Cold sores don’t have to be transmitted sexually, but it is possible.

The sores are caused by a strain of the herpes simplex virus. Usually this virus is contained below the waist, causing lesions around the genitalia, this is the sexually transmitted side of the virus, known as HSV-2. However, the cold sores that appear predominantly on the face are caused by the herpes simplex HSV-1. HSV-1 is so common that almost all Americans carry the virus and never show symptoms.

When a cold sore surfaces, it’s because the sufferers immune system has failed to suppress the virus. When your immune system is weak, such as when it is fighting another infection, cold sores are more likely to occur. Cold sores are extremely contagious. So those afflicted must take extra care with hygiene when treating a cold sore.

There’s no cure for any of the herpes viruses, so our best methods for dealing with cold sores are symptomatic treatment while your immune system fights the virus. Thankfully, there are a number of safe natural remedies, which for many people are more effective than prescription medications.

Hygeine When Suffering From A Cold Sore

To prevent the spread of the virus, extra attention needs to be paid to hygiene when dealing with cold sores.

  • Sores should be touched as little as possible. Wash the rest of your face separate from a cold sore, and avoid rubbing or touching the cold sore while it’s in the itchy stage. If the cold sore is touched for whatever reason, wash your hands before and after contact.

  • For cold sores around the mouth, wash food utensils separately after eating, including glasses and plates that may have been used.

  • Avoid kissing others when you have an exposed cold sore, and don’t share clothes or items like towels, pillows, etc.

Cold Sore Relief

While your body naturally fights the herpes virus to heal a cold sore, the itchiness and pain can get in the way of your day-to-day activities. Here are a few things you can do to alleviate common cold sore symptoms.

  • Apply ice to the affected area. This remedy is useful before the cold sore has broken the skin. Wrap an ice cube in a thin cloth, like a hanky, and hold it on the affected area. The ice can work to slow done the viral activity underneath the skin, and will also relieve itchiness around the area. Make sure that you wash your hands and the cloth after treating the area.

  • Tea tree oil is an essential oil that can be found at many health shops. It’s a natural extract that has pain relief properties when applied to the skin. Apply a small drop of tea tree oil to the affected area before it has broken the skin to reduce itchiness and swelling. You can continue to apply the oil as discomfort returns, but discontinue application once the sore breaks the skin. Propolis and the Self-Heal herb extract could also be applied in the same way, and are found in natural health stores.

A Natural Treatment That Fights HSV-1

Although you can never eliminate the HSV-1 virus, there is a natural treatment that can retard the spread of the virus while also preventing replication below the skin. Lysine is a natural amino acid that has been laboratory proven to fight herpes simplex.

Lysine is available from health and supplement stores in a concentrated dose. One 500mg dosage of lysine in the morning and evening while suffering from a cold sore can help to reduce the duration of viral activity.

If you’re using lysine, it’s important to start your dosage as soon as you notice cold sore symptoms, right from the first itch. In many cases, complementing lysine dosage with ice applications on the affected area will prevent the spread of the virus to the point where it becomes dormant before even breaking the skin.

Foods that are high in lysine like vegetables, chicken, fish and milk can all help to reduce the duration of a cold sore.


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    • profile image

      Deborah Sexton 2 years ago

      I took aromatherapy classes, and found that lemons work best for fever blisters. Cut one open, press against the affected area, scream from the pain, and relax. In about an hour all the pain will stop, and the blister will begin to dry up.

    • eilval profile image

      Eileen 2 years ago from Western Cape , South Africa

      Some great tips you have here - will certainly try them out !