Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, usually appear around the lips, nose and chin. The condition is quite common as well as contagious.
The problem is caused by the herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) and is highly contagious, especially when the blisters are oozing fluid. However, the virus does not always cause sores and may even stay dormant permanently.
Factors like emotional stress, fatigue, hormonal changes (especially during menstruation), fever, trauma to the skin, and exposure to strong sunlight tend to reactivate the virus and contribute to outbreaks.
The virus spreads through direct contact with an infected individual or through saliva, even when the person does not have blisters. It is believed that as much as 90% of the adult population worldwide is infected with this virus.
Cold sore outbreaks are characterized by small, painful blisters around the lips or the edge of the mouth. They can also appear under the nose. You are likely to experience a tingling or burning sensation around the lips or nose a day or two before the blisters erupt. They eventually burst, ooze fluid, and crust over.
These sores usually go away on their own within a week or so. Nevertheless, you can use some simple home cures as soon as you experience the telltale tingling to reduce the duration of an outbreak and ease the discomfort.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for cold sores.
Ice helps reduce the swelling, redness, and pain caused by a cold sore.
- Wrap an ice cube in a clean washcloth.
- Place it over your cold sore for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Repeat this every three to four hours.
Garlic has enzymes that work as antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agents that help treat cold sores. In addition, it acts as an anti-inflammatory and reduces swelling and inflammation.
- Cut a garlic clove into halves.
- Crush one-half and apply it on the affected area.
- Leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Repeat the process three to five times a day.
Warning: You may feel a burning sensation when applying raw garlic on the blister-like lesions.
3. Acetone Nail Polish Remover
Believe it or not, many people have actually tried this remedy and even found it effective. Acetone is believed to help dry out a cold sore.
- Dip a cotton ball in acetone nail polish remover.
- Dab it on the cold sore.
- Do this several times a day, preferably once an hour.
4. Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is great for disinfecting and drying up the sore.
- Dip a cotton ball or cotton swab in 3% hydrogen peroxide solution.
- Apply it on your cold sore and leave it on for a few minutes.
- Do this every few hours.
5. Licorice Root
This herb prevents and treats cold sores. It has an active ingredient called glycyrrhizin with antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Mix one tablespoon of licorice root powder and one-half teaspoon of water. Apply it on your cold sore using a cotton swab or your fingertip (make sure your hands are clean), and leave it on for a few hours. Do this several times a day.
- You can also have licorice root tea or supplements.
If you are prone to cold sores, eat this herb on a regular basis to help minimize outbreaks. If you have high blood pressure, avoid taking licorice root as it raises blood pressure and leads to low levels of potassium.
Studies have found that taking lysine on a regular basis can help prevent cold sores due to its antiviral effects. Lysine is an essential amino acid that blocks the activity of another amino acid called arginine, which promotes replication of the herpes simplex virus.
- Take 1,000 to 1,500 mg L-Lysine supplements daily to help keep the herpes virus dormant. During an outbreak, take 1,000 mg three times a day. You can also use creams, but oral lysine is considered more effective.
- Include meat, milk, yogurt, cheese, soybeans, and other protein-rich foods in your diet as they are good sources of lysine.