If you are a cold sore sufferer, you EXACTLY what I am talking about…the itchy, burning sensation followed by a painful, unsightly sore that seems to “pop up” right before your next big event! Worst. Nightmare. Ever.
For as long as I can remember, I have suffered from cold sores. These little sores can be be both physically and emotionally draining, so much so, that I refused to leave my house! Over the years, I’ve researched everything from prevention to speeding up the duration of a cold sore. And today, I’m going to share everything I know AND what actually works for me!
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and the information on this website is for informational purposes only. The opinions expressed are based solely on my opinion and personal experiences. As always, check with your healthcare provider before starting any medical treatment. This blog has not been evaluated by the FDA. Any products or methods mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or ailment. Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. Any opinions are my own and all products have been used by me personally.
ABOUT COLD SORES
According to MayoClinic.org, “Cold sores — also called fever blisters — are a common viral infection. They are tiny, fluid-filled blisters on and around your lips. These blisters are often grouped together in patches. After the blisters break, a crust forms over the resulting sore. Cold sores usually heal in two to four weeks without leaving a scar.”
Cold sores are highly contagious even if the sore is not visible and are spread by person to person contact. They are tiny fluid filled blisters, that appear on and around your lips, not to be confused with canker sores which appear inside your mouth. Cold sores are caused by a herpes simplex virus, HSV-1, which is related to, HSV-2, the virus that causes genital herpes. Once an individual has the virus, the virus never leaves the body. It simply lays dormant until it is able to re-emerge. There is currently no known cure. While the cold sore virus lays dormant in 80% of the world’s population, symptoms do not occur in most people.
COLD SORE TRIGGERS YOU NEED TO KNOW
Reducing cold sore triggers can help prevent outbreaks in the future.
- Hormonal Changes
- Illness / Fever
- Weather | UV Exposure; Extreme Cold, Heat, & Wind
- Contact with someone who has spread the infection
- Unhealthy Diet | An unhealthy diet aids in the suppression of your immune system which can cause an outbreak. Eating a diet rich in fruits and veggies is key!
PREVENTION & TREATMENT METHODS
Prevention and treatment can ease the pain of cold sores.
- The most effective way to stop the virus dead in its tracks, has been Valacylovir. While I always try to use natural alternatives whenever possible, I always have a filled prescription on hand. This has been the most effective treatment method for me personally. The drug is most effective when taken at the first sign of the virus, can prevent a sore from emerging, and cuts the duration time in half! As soon as I start to feel a tingling sensation, I take the recommended dose of 2 grams now and 2 grams 12 hours later. If you don’t have a prescription, your doctor can prescribe one for you. Other prescriptions include: Famciclovir Penciclovir, and Acyclovir, but Valacylovir is what worked best for me.
- This FDA approved red-light device has been shown to help reduce or eliminate cold sore outbreaks. This works by deadening the nerves and Studies have shown this treatment is effective for over 93% of people and cuts duration to 1-2 days. According to their website, they also offer a 6 month 100% money back guarantee, so as a cold sore suffer, it seems like a win-win! Red-light treatments for cold sores are offered by some dentist offices as well. And while I haven’t tried red light therapy yet, as I haven’t had the need to (knock on wood!), I have done a bit of research on this type of therapy and it seems promising.
- ABREVA and other over-the-counter ointments haven’t worked well for me, but that is not to say they won’t work for you. Each person is different. When in doubt, try it out!
- Consider a lysine supplement. Take 3 mg per day AND consume foods high in Lysine / low in Arginine when you have an outbreak or feel one coming on. Arginine is an amino acid that triggers cold sore outbreaks.
- Try a cold sore bandage to keep the virus from spreading and help conceal it. When my daughter was almost 3 months old, I developed a cold sore and was hysterical! Even though I never touched it and constantly washed my hands, I was so worried I would spread it to her so I bought these patches. They did the job and helped put my mind at ease (a little bit!).
- Ideally, use a lip balm that contains zinc or SPF 30.
- Year-round I use this lip balm to protect my lips from the elements to help prevent an outbreak.
- When I am experiencing an outbreak, I apply the lip balm with a cotton q-tip to the affected area. Then, use a new q-tip to apply to surrounding areas to prevent cracking. The key is to not cross-contaminate anything!
- Apply ice to help suppress the virus and soothe the area. Repeat every half hour for 10 minutes.
- Apply Vitamin E oil or a healing ointment when the sore is in the healing stage especially. Vitamin E can also provide itch relief.
- Use tea tree oil to dry out the sore. Tea tree oil has antimicrobial properties which really help soothe the sore!
- Apply aloe vera. Known for its healing properties, aloe vera can soothe and accelerate the healing process. Be sure to use 100% pure aloe.
- Consider hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, vinegar, and other remedies. Proceed with caution! Using these remedies may be painful, but from my experience, has helped with the duration of the sore. I’ve even used toxic acetone when I was desperate which DID work, but I don’t recommend it.
- Throw out your toothbrush and lipstick, and anything else you apply to your lips, AFTER the sore has healed – you don’t want to risk it coming back. I also err on the side of caution, and sanitize my makeup brushes or replace them all together.
DIET & PREVENTION
A proper diet can give your immune system the nutrition it needs to keep viruses at bay. Be sure to incorporate high lysine foods into your everyday meal plan.
- Stay hydrated. Drink at least 2 liters of water per day. Avoid sugary, processed drinks.
- Eat organic foods. Organic foods aren’t overloaded with pesticides and chemicals like conventional foods. This can all wreak havoc on your immune system and the effect way your body functions.
- Strengthen your immune system with immune boosting herbs and supplements like garlic, cinnamon, and ginger. Learn more ways to boost your immune system by visiting my recent blog post.
- Incorporate a healthy diet, rich in foods with high lysine/low arginine content. My go-to’s are: apples, pears, cherries, apricots, mangoes, cauliflower, and green peppers. Flounder was my choice of fish prior to becoming a vegetarian because it is very high in lysine. Other fish are good options as well. See ‘Lysine’ above.
- Eat yogurt with live cultures which are said to help prevent the virus from replicating.
- Limit alcohol intake and quit smoking. Alcohol depletes your immune system of essential vitamins and nutrients, leaving room for the virus to begin brewing! Beer, especially can trigger an outbreak due to the yeast it contains. Smoking is overall bad for your health, but your fingers harbor bacteria and viruses which may trigger an outbreak as well.
- Avoid processed sugars, acidic foods, greasy foods, nuts, processed meats, beer, and chocolate (I know, I know!)
COLD SORE DO’S & DONT’S
- DO wash your hands often and avoid touching the area all together.
- DO use caution around to babies as it can be fatal and do not let anyone kiss your baby!
- DO NOT share drinks, utensils, plates or towels if you have a cold sore or if someone else has a sore.
- DO NOT kiss anyone until the sore is completely healed.
- Avoid triggers in the future as much as possible.
Comment below and let me know which remedies work best for you!
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