Cold sores are characterized as red, swollen and sore, and may leak out a clear fluid when they are punctured. Fever, pain on the mouth and swollen lymph nodes typically accompany the blisters. It does tend to resolve itself in a few days to two weeks. They (cold sores) are caused by the virus herpes simplex. There are two variations of this virus, herpes simplex virus 1 and herpes simplex virus 2. Both types can cause sores on the mouth and genitalia. You can catch the virus by coming in contact with fluids from the sores, by using utensils, razors, toothbrushes and even towels of people who have the virus. Be doubly vigilant too, because not all people who carry the virus carry the symptoms.
They can be quite bothersome, so most of the medication available is formulated to either shorten the healing process or ease the discomfort. Home remedies are great for cold sores because a lot of them ease the pain and assist the healing process in a natural way.
- PETROLEUM JELLY
Petroleum jelly doesn’t “heal” cold sores per se, but covering your sores with a protective film of petroleum jelly could prevent any secondary infections. Don’t keep touching your sores either. The moment you apply antiseptic and petroleum jelly, avoid the urge to pick at your scabs and lick on your lips.
- ECHINACEA (Coneflowers)
Echinacea tea has been found to increase your natural defenses against pathogens by bolstering our immune system. Drinking this tea regularly or throughout your healing period could shorten the amount of time needed to recover from cold sores.
The moment you have been diagnosed with cold sores you should start eating a lysine-rich diet. Lysine is an amino acid found in a variety of food that seems to impede the proliferation of the herpes simplex virus. Examples of foods rich in lysine are eggs, almonds, peanuts, legumes, meat, dairy products and vegetables. Lysine can also be available in supplement form, which a lot of people have started taking regularly to avoid cold sore outbreaks.
Research has shown that raw honey is 43% better than the commonly prescribed Acyclovir cream for cold sores. The pain and crusting that’s typical for cold sores is significantly reduced using raw honey. All you need to do is to apply raw honey onto the blisters about 4 times a day.
A WORD OF CAUTION: The average “Grade A” type honey you see in supermarkets is NOT raw honey and should NOT be applied onto your blisters as they may likely increase infection, not prevent it.
A compound in licorice called glycyrrhizic acid has been found to have an adverse effect on the virus that causes cold sores. Try applying a paste made of licorice powder and vegetable oil onto the sores. Another thing you can do is ingest licorice, but not the kind you find in licorice candy as that is likely just flavoring and not licorice itself. To ensure that you are really eating licorice, find food that contains “licorice mass” in its ingredients.
- ICE PACK
Using an ice pack is really more for easing the discomfort than for healing the sores. To ease the pain of cold sores, apply ice onto it whenever the blisters get too dry. Putting on petroleum jelly after applying ice onto the area will keep it moisturized and help prevent sores from getting too dry and cracking open.
Milk contains a lot of lysine, an amino compound that prevents the further flourishing of the herpes simplex virus. Arginine, an amino acid crucial in the multiplication of viruses, is inhibited by the lysine found in milk. Besides lysine, immunoglobulins found in milk may also have a role in fighting off the virus itself. You may use milk as a compress by soaking cotton balls with it and then dabbing it onto the affected area or you can also drink it.
- HYDROGEN PEROXIDE
Another way to hasten the healing process or to avoid further infection of your cold sores is occasionally treating the sores with hydrogen peroxide. Soak a cotton ball with hydrogen peroxide and then press it on the sores for a minute or two. If that’s too painful for you, you could dab the cotton ball on and around the area for 5 minutes instead of pressing it on.
It is important to remember that none of these remedies can actually heal the virus, viral infections actually just tend to resolve themselves. These natural homemade cold sore remedies however can help you manage the symptoms and make the whole ordeal a little bit more bearable. Some additional tips for treating your cold sores:
- You should change your toothbrush before and after you start treatment to avoid autoinfection.
- Avoid trigger foods (those rich in arginine) like chocolates and yogurt.
- Use sunscreen on your blisters, apparently UV rays can trigger cold sores.
- Drink supplements (especially L-lysine), get plenty of rest and eat healthy food. Anything that can help increase your immunity.
- Stop using makeup and utensils that have come in contact with your sores.
There you have it, if you keep your immune system up and avoid introducing conditions that could aggravate your sores you will be like brand new in no time!