What are cold sores?
Cold sores are an embarrassing and often quite painful symptom caused by herpes simplex virus. These fluid filled lesions resemble blisters and most commonly occur beneath the skin’s surface around the area of the mouth and lips. When they break open, the fluid oozes from them and they crust over.
Left untreated, cold sores are usually visible for between seven and ten days. Other symptoms that can accompany your cold sores are fever, aches, pains, headaches and a sore throat. The herpes simplex virus is present in around 90% of adults worldwide but in most people. Typically the symptoms never show.
However, some people may develop cold sores and many of those will experience recurring breakouts. While the virus itself cannot be treated, there are fortunately a wide variety of safe and natural treatments that can help treat your cold sores, diminish their ugly appearance and reduce their duration.
Cold Sore Home Remedies
1. Vanilla Extract
Good quality organic vanilla extract is a very effective remedy for cold sores that many people have used with success. Nobody seems sure why exactly it works though some say it is because it is alcohol based. Vanilla extract can wipe out your cold sore or at the very least diminish its severity and reduce the duration of the sore.
• Soak a cotton swab well in some organic vanilla extract.
• Apply the soaked swab to your cold sore and hold it in place for a few minutes.
• Repeat at least 3 times a day for as long as necessary.
2. Lemon balm
Lemon balm which is related to the min family is considered to be an excellent natural remedy for cold sores. It can help reduce the duration of the blister and sped up the healing process as well as preventing future outbreaks.
Many people recommend the use of a lip balm containing lemon balm as an ingredient. Alternatively making a compress with lemon balm tea and applying the compress to the sore can be equally as helpful.
3. Aloe Vera gel
Aloe vera has a wonderful reputation for soothing irritations of the skin and is used for a variety of minor skin complaints. Using aloe vera can help alleviate the pain caused by cold sores and might help kill any bacteria present in the blister. It is well worth keeping an aloe plant or two at home but if you do not have one, the gel is easy enough to find at the store.
• Cut an aloe leaf lengthways and apply its gel directly to you cold sore.
• If you don’ have an aloe leaf, dip a cotton swab into around half a teaspoon of aloe vera gel and apply it to your sore.
• Leave the gel work into your skin.
• Repeat several times a day for as long as necessary.
4. Witch Hazel
Witch hazel bark and leaves have been used in traditional medicine for centuries especially by the Native Americans and nowadays it is readily available to buy in your local health store or pharmacy in distilled liquid form. It is well known as a treatment for a wide variety of skin complaints including acne, insect bites, bruising and blisters but is also an effective natural treatment for your cold sores.
• Soak a cotton swab or a cotton ball with your witch hazel liquid.
• Apply it directly to your cold sores and leave it work on your skin.
• Repeat twice a day until your sore has healed.
5. Whole Milk
Simply drinking plenty of whole milk can help relieve your cold sore outbreaks. The reason for this is that milk contains proteins called immunoglobins or antibodies which can help defeat viruses such as herpes simplex. Milk also possesses a compound called l-lysine which helps to inhibit an amino acid (arginine) responsible for cold sore outbreaks. Drinking whole milk can prevent outbreaks but to treat cold sores which have already occurred, you can make a very effective compress using whole milk.
• Soak a cotton pad or a ball in a tablespoon or so of milk.
• Apply the pad or ball to your cold sore and hold it in place for 5 minutes or so.
• Repeat this simple remedy several times each day.
6. Hydrogen Peroxide
My grandmother absolutely swore by the healing powers of hydrogen peroxide when I was growing up. As any parent knows, children are prone to scrapes and cuts and I clearly remember my Nan applying the stuff to my broken skin and the stinging that it caused. When it comes to cold sores, hydrogen peroxide is effective because it disinfects the sore, speeds up the healing process and prevents it from getting any worse.
• Saturate a cotton ball or cotton pad in a tablespoon or so of hydrogen peroxide.
• Apply the pad or ball to your cold sore for 10 seconds or so and then dab it about a little.
• It is likely to sting a bit at first but try to persevere.
• Leave the peroxide work on your sore for several minutes before rinsing it away.
• Repeat once or twice a day for as long as you need to.
7. Peppermint essential oil
Many essential oils possess the therapeutic properties to combat the virus which causes cold sores. Peppermint essential oil is considered to be one of the best essential oils o deal with cold sores but many others possess very similar antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Peppermint oil in particular has a cooling, soothing effect on the skin and many people have experienced a great deal of success with it. For best effect, you should start your treatment as soon as you feel the tingling sensation which acts as a warning that a cold sore is about to break out.
• Dilute your peppermint oil in some clean water to ensure that it does no irritate the skin.
• Dip a cotton ball or the end of a swab in the mixture then apply it to your cold sore.
• Repeat twice each day for as long as necessary.
Other essential oils that may be equally effective include tea tree, lavender, geranium, eucalyptus and bergamot essential oils.
Echinacea often pops up on lists of home remedies and despite there being little in the way of scientific evidence, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that this herb can help prevent the outbreak of cold sores and also reduce their duration. Echinacea is believed to boost the immune system and its defenses against bugs. Because cold sores often occur when your body is in a weakened sate, echinacea tea may well be an effective preventive treatment.
For temporary relief from pain, you can apply ice directly to your cold sores. Although ice will not treat the infection, it can certainly help ease the pain and reduce any inflammation caused by your sores.
10. Licorice root
Licorice contains a compound called glycyrhizic acid which is believed to prevent the spread of the cold sore virus or at least fight its symptoms because contains antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties You can drink licorice tea whenever you like but when it comes to cold sores, topical treatment is considered more effective.
• Mix a tablespoon or so of powdered licorice root with half that amount of water.
• Stir well until you get a creamy consistency add more water or powder if necessary.
• Use a cotton swab to apply a thin layer of the licorice mixture to your cold sore.
• Leave it on overnight or for a few hours at the very least.
• Repeat daily.
This amino acid is available in cream or supplementary oral forms. Taking a lysine supplement can prevent any future outbreaks while applying a lysine cream to your sore topically to your cold sore can reduce the symptoms and shorten its duration.
12. Dietary considerations
Making sure that you get plenty of dietary Vitamin C and E can help protect against cold sore outbreaks. Vitamin C is able to boost he body’s white blood cell count making you more able to stave off infection. Vitamin E can be applied topically to relieve the pain and irritation associated with cold sores.
It is better to try and get your vitamins through your diet but supplements are available if you feel you are not able to get enough. Foods rich in Vitamin E include fresh fruit and leafy green veg like broccoli and spinach and Vitamin E is present in high concentrations in nuts, leafy green veggies, avocados and whole grains.
We hope that one of these excellent, natural remedies will help get rid of your cold sores. Remember that tone of the best ways to prevent a cold sore outbreak is to stay healthy and free of stress so eat well, exercise and let us know how it goes.