How To Treat Cold Sores

Everyday Illnesses Common Remedies
What Is A Cold Sore?

Cold sores are small fluid filled blisters that occur around and inside your lip. These blisters cluster together in patches. After the blisters break a crust forms over them resulting in a sore. Cold sores are spread from person to person by direct contact, usually through kissing. A cold sore is caused by a virus (herpes simplex, HSV-1) which is closely related to the virus that causes genital herpes (HSV-2). There is no cure for HSV infection. Once you are infected, cold sores can come and go for years. Some women are more prone to attacks during their period, or at times of stress. Others find eating large amounts of chocolate or nuts triggers an attack. Once a cold sore appears it typically takes about 2 weeks to disappear. Some treatments, mentioned below may help speed up the recovery process.

Stages Of A Cold Sore

stages of a cold sore

5 Top Treatments For A Cold Sore

1. Cold Sore Medications
Zovirax and Vectavir are two antiviral creams which can be bought over the counter in pharmacies to treat cold sores. These products do not kill the HSV virus but they may prevent it from multiplying and causing more blisters. Also, while they have little effect on blisters that have already formed, they may stop them from getting worse. Ideally these products should be used from the first tingle of a cold sore appearing. There is however some debate as to how well these creams work. Antivirals also come in pill form (Valtrex and Famvir) and it is thought that these are more effective.
2. Abreva Cream
Abreva is an over the counter cream approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating cold sores. It needs to be applied several times a day and may speed up recovery by a day.
3. Witch Hazel
Dab the cold sore with witch hazel several times a day. It is an astringent that will help it dry out.
4. Bach Rescue Remedy Cream
Some people find applying Bach Rescue Remedy cream to cold sores helps prevent them from worsening. This cream contains 5 flower remedies which treats a wide range of problems.
5. Olive Leaf Extract Supplements
Take olive leaf extract supplements 3 times a day after the onset of symptoms. It is highly antiviral and may speed recovery.

Additional Tips

1. Change your toothbrush and face cloth regularly as these can harbor the cold sore virus.
2. Strong sunlight can trigger a cold sore. Cover your face or wear a wear sunscreen with a SPF of 30 if sunbathing.
3.A number of studies show you can reduce the frequency of cold sore attacks by taking vitamin C and the amino acid lysine on a daily basis. Supplements are now available which combine these ingredients.
4. Avoid picking the scab off a blister, it can delay recovery.
5. Apply ice or a very cold cloth to a sore blister. While it will not speed recovery, it can help to reduce redness and swelling.
6. To avoid spreading the virus, wash your hands with soap and water after touching cold sores or after applying creams.
7. If you wear contact lenses, be sure to carefully wash your hands before inserting them. There is a risk of spreading the virus to your eyes.

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• Other health issues? See: How to treat common illnesses and skin care questions.

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