A cold sore is an irritating red blister that usually develops on the face, normally around the edges of the mouth. Apart from being unattractive, they can be really painful too, and if the outbreak is bad, they can make it hard to smile or even talk!
Cold sores are formed by a virus called herpes simplex, which, according to the World Health Organization, is found in around one-third of the world’s population, under 50 years of age.
Once this herpes simplex virus enters your body, it is with you for the rest of your life, and the cold sores will come back time and again, due to certain triggers.
What triggers the onset of cold sores?
Knowing the triggers that cause a cold sore outbreak can help a lot to reduce their severity and how long they last. Some of the most common triggers are exhaustion, emotional stress, infections, too much exposure to the sun, hormonal changes, and a weakened immune system.
Are cold sores contagious?
Cold sores are highly contagious, and by simply touching them, you can spread the virus to your eyes and even your genitals. Therefore, it is imperative that you wash your hands thoroughly right after you have touched cold sores or applied any type of medical remedy. If you used tissues or cotton swabs to apply for the medicine, discard those as well.
Do not kiss anyone with a weak immune system, like sickly people or babies, who risk catching the virus almost immediately.
Effective home remedies for cold sores
As mentioned earlier, when you have the herpes simplex virus, it stays in your body for life, as there is no cure. However, you can use antiviral medication to treat cold sores, and there are several effective home remedies too, that will help to prevent further flare-ups, such as the following:
Lemon balm essential oil – lemon is good for cleaning many things in the home, and now studies suggest that lemon balm essential oil is also an effective cold sore treatment. Lemon has antiviral properties that could reduce blister redness and swell too. As soon as you feel that itchy feeling of a cold sore starting, apply one or two drops of the lemon balm to the site, and then put an ice cube on top of the site and keep it there for around ten minutes. Then cover the area with a thin layer of petroleum jelly to protect the area and stop the skin from cracking.
Aloe – dabbing the area with pure aloe vera gel about three or four times per day is yet another good, effective cold sore treatment you can use at home. Besides the cool gel soothing the area from the discomfort and pain of the cold sore, it has antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects as well, which help a lot with cold sores.
Ice – cold sores are painful, and one of the easiest ways to relieve the pain is to apply ice blocks to the site. Wrap the ice in a paper towel before applying to avoid damaging your skin.
Sunscreen – sunburn can trigger the development of cold sores, so make sure to always apply sunscreen before you go out into the sun.
Nutrition – you could have a cold sore breakout if your immune system is weakened, so make sure to eat foods that will give your immune system a good, healthy boost. Include in your diet foods rich in zinc and vitamin c, which both contain antioxidants. These should be foods like kiwis, berries, melons, citrus fruits, poultry, beans, whole grains, and shellfish. In addition to these changes to your diet, make sure to exercise regularly and maintain a positive attitude to give your immune system a good, natural boost.
Although there are countless cold sore remedies available, many of them require a prescription from a doctor and are normally on the expensive side. However, the above treatments, and the many others that are available in most kitchens, work just as well in relieving the unpleasant symptoms of cold sores and cost a fraction of the price!