Cold sores also known as fever blisters are a no-no on the face, and they can be very painful. Cold sores are tiny, lesions filled with fluid which pop up mostly around the lips. They are caused by herpes simplex virus (HSV-1).
Cold sores have no cure, but there are several preventive steps that can be taken to reduce the appearance of the breakout, duration and ease off the pain. Cold sores are known to disappear on their own after a while probably a week, but here are some steps that can be taken to get rid of them as soon as possible;
1. Over-the-counter Lotions or Ointments: Walk into a drug store or pharmacy, and purchase ointments such as carmex and orajel are made to prevent sore and quicken the healing process. These ointments can be applied four to five times daily for a duration of five days, ensure you follow instructions on the label of the creams purchased. Covering these sores with ointments are very effective as they help protect from sunlight and other irritations, which helps hasten healing process and makes it fade away fast.
2. Petroleum Jelly: It is a readily available treatment that can be used to get rid of cold sores. It works in opposite way as when you apply rubbing alcohol on the blister. Rubbing alcohol would dry off the blisters, while petroleum jelly softens your skin and provides it with a protective layer to prevent blisters from being infected. If the blisters get infected, this would increase the duration of the cold sore, hence the protective layer the petroleum provides would help get rid of the blisters rapidly. Apply the petroleum jelly gently with a clean finger.
3. Drying Agent: One method to attack a cold sore is by applying drying agent such as calamine lotion, zinc oxide, blistex or rubbing alcohol. Most commonly used drying agent is rubbing alcohol, ensure you purchase 70% solution. Using a clean cotton swab or pad, apply the rubbing alcohol on the cold sore. Alcohol helps dry out cold sores and hasten healing process, it also helps prevent the cold sore from being infected. Drying agents work effectively as soon as cold sores appear.
4. Sunscreen: Skin exposure to sun is hard on any skin, and it is very harmful especially to people who get cold sores easily. Hence, skin can be protected by applying sunscreen all through the year, and not only during summer. For your lips you can simply get a lipstick or lip balm that has zinc oxide, this would help protect your lips from cold sore.
5. Anti-viral medications and creams: You can visit your doctor to get the best advice on what type of anti-viral drug or cream you can use to get rid of the cold sores. Ensure you tell your doctor exactly how you feeling as this would enable your doctor or physician know what to prescribe especially if cold sores are persistent. Strictly adhere to the instructions given by your doctor or as seen on the label of the drug or cream.
- Acyclovir cream should be applied directly on the cold sores four to five times daily for a duration of five days.
- Penciclovir cream should be applied on the cold sores directly every 2 hours for five days.
- Famciclovir, Valacyclovir (Valtrex) or Acyclovir (Zovirax) are anti-viral drugs also.
These drugs or creams would help get rid of cold sores rapidly and prevent recurrence. Within first few days of using these medications, symptoms would be considerably reduced.
6. Using Natural Remedies
- Vanilla Extract: Using real, pure, good vanilla extract daily is a natural method for treating cold sore. Vanilla extracts are known to contain alcohol, and this makes it difficult for the herpes simplex virus to survive and either disappear or reduce the intensity and period of outbreak. If purchasing vanilla extract ensure you get organic vanilla extract, and start applying it the moment you feel tingly around the blisters.
Using a clean cotton pad or swab, dip into a pure vanilla extract till cotton pad or swab is well soaked with vanilla extract. Apply vanilla extract directly on the cold sore, holding cotton swab or pad for a minute or two. Repeat this process four to five times daily till cold sore is completely gone.
- Ice-cubes: Get an ice cube and place it directly on the sore for few minutes at least three to four times daily. Ice would help relieve pain inflicted by the sore and help reduce swelling.
- Hydrogen Peroxide: Wipe cold sore with hydrogen peroxide, its very effective in getting rid of cold sores. Hydrogen peroxide helps speed up healing process, decontaminate and makes it difficult for the blisters to worsen or spread. Cold sore is virally infected, hence, keeping it uncontaminated would hasten fading off.
Get a table spoonful of hydrogen peroxide and cotton pads or cotton balls. Soak the cotton pads in the hydrogen peroxide till it is well soaked. Directly on the sore place the cotton pad, this would give a tingly sensation.
Leave cotton pad on the sore for few minutes or pat it round the sore for five to seven minutes before you rinse it off so hydrogen peroxide is able to work effectively.
7. Vitamins E and Vitamins C: Vitamins are very essential for our health and very effective at getting rid of cold sores. Vitamin E when applied on sores is known to ease the infuriating and painful uneasiness caused by the cold sores, it also helps reduce blemishing.
Vitamins C is known to enhance white blood cell count, and white blood cells are known as body defenders. Once you get an infection, these white blood cells move straight into action and fights off infection such as herpes simplex virus. Hence, more white blood cells in the body is very effective at battling off infections. This vitamins can be gotten from oil (for vitamins E), oral supplement and another effective way of getting these vitamins is through your diet.
- Examples of food rich in vitamin C are; kiwi, broccoli, red and green bell pepper, spinach, red berries etc.
- Examples of food rich in vitamin E are; avocados, leafy green vegetables, nuts, avocados etc.
8. Aloe vera: Aloe vera is known for its high benefit of treating skin irritations and clearing out blemishes. Aloe veral gel would help ease discomfort from pain inflicted by cold sores once it turns to a blister. It also has anti-bacterial properties which helps get rid of bacteria that may irritate the sore, hence, making the sore fade away faster. All you need do is pick out an aloe vera plant or purchase a good aloe vera gel in the store or supermarket.
Using an aloe vera plant, break off one end of the leaf and gently scrape out gel. Apply this gel directly on your sore. If you cannot get an aloe vera plant, use the gel from the store. Using a clean cotton swab or pad soak in the gel, then apply gel directly on the sore and leave for a few minutes.
Preventive measures for stopping cold sores
- When experiencing cold sore or fever blisters, you are highly infectious and can spread virus from one person to another. Hence, avoid having your cold sore spread with another person by avoiding kissing. Also stay away from oral sexual activities during these periods. This can risk spreading and infecting someone else with herpes simplex virus.
- Avoid sharing items such as straws, toothbrushes, razors, drinking glasses, towels and other object that may have come in contact with infected person. Also if you have the cold sores do not share any of these items with someone else. Once you have a cold sore, throw away your toothbrush. This would risk virus spreading if you continue exposing yourself to the cold sore by using your toothbrush.
- Frequently wash your hands. By touching cold sore with dirty hands would lead to bacterial infection and would most likely spread sores to different parts of your body. Using warm water and soap, wash your hands frequently all through the day.
- Stay away from stress, cold sores mostly occur when stressed. Ensure you get enough rest as this would greatly reduce chance of you getting a cold sore outbreak.
- Getting sufficient sleep every night will guarantee your body is well rested. At least seven to eight hours of sleep at night would work effectively on your body. If having difficulty sleeping at night, you can try meditating few minutes before heading to bed or try listening to slow, calm music this would help you sleep.
- Drink lots of water daily to make sure you are hydrated. This helps keep off sicknesses that might add to the cold sore or fever blisters outbreak, but most importantly staying hydrated helps keep you healthy and strong.