Cold sores are a common condition caused by a virus, resulting in an inflamed blister on the lips or around the mouth. Once one appears, you are not really in control of how long it will last. They usually clear up by themselves within a few days, however, there are steps that you can take to make them feel less of a problem. Read on to find out exactly what causes cold sores and what treatments you can choose to reduce the duration of the outbreak. We’ll get you back to living your full life in no time.
What is a Cold Sore?
A cold sore is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1). More than two thirds of the population is infected with this virus, but many are unaware, simply because they haven’t had a cold sore outbreak. The virus spreads from person to person through simple things such as kissing, oral sex, sharing razors, or sharing eating utensils. These are simple everyday things, which make it easy for the virus to make its way into the bloodstream of most of the population. For most of these people, the virus will lie dormant, but around 30% of them will suffer from periodic outbreaks of cold sores. These sores usually develop around the mouth and show up as small, fluid-filled blisters that can often be quite painful.
Can Cold Sores be Prevented?
It is currently unknown why the HSV-1 virus lies dormant in some people, yet causes misery in the form of cold sores for others. It might be that those who don’t suffer just managed to win the genetic lottery. We do know that outbreaks are often triggered by lifestyle. Several factors can lead to an outbreak occurring, which means that a sufferer does need to take precautions to ensure they are living the healthiest life possible. Tiredness, emotional stress, illness, too much exposure to sunlight, hormonal changes, and trauma to the skin are all known to be potential triggers. Prevention is always better than cure, so if you can avoid these affecting your life, that is always going to be your best option.
What Cold Sore Treatments are there Available?
Cold sores will clear up if left alone, but they are unsightly and can cause pain, so many people choose to use a treatment to help reduce the duration and severity of the outbreak. A doctor will usually treat cold sores with Acyclovir, but other potential treatments that you can use are listed below.
Many sufferers claim that placing ice cubes on the affected area as soon as you feel those first tingling sensations that denote a cold sore is on its way can help to reduce both the pain and the redness. Simply wrap the ice in a cloth and place it on the affected area for 20 minutes. Repeat this 4-5 times a day until the cold sore has disappeared and you could really reduce the impact that the HSV-1 virus has on your life.
Let’s face it you shouldn’t be kissing anyone when you have a cold sore anyway, so why not give garlic a go as a potential treatment? The garlic bulb is thought to be antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal, so it should get tough on any cold sores that you have. It is also believed to reduce swelling. Simply crush half a clove and hold it against the infected area until the stinging stops. Repeat 3-5 times a day.
Aloe Vera Gel
There is seemingly nothing that Aloe vera can’t treat. The plant contains so many enzymes and antioxidants, meaning that it can easily treat existing cold sores and help to prevent reinfections. Apply the gel directly onto the cold sore with a cotton bud. Using it regularly throughout the day should decrease the duration of the cold sore and ease any discomfort that you feel.
Recent studies show that hydrogen peroxide is extremely beneficial when it comes to disinfecting and drying up cold sores. Make sure that you only ever use a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide as you don’t want to use anything stronger on your skin. This solution will be available from most chemists and is recommended for use on the skin. Simply use a cotton ball to apply the neat solution directly to the cold sore and hold it in place until it stops stinging. Repeat this process until the cold sore dries up. Always make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly after handling this chemical.
Cold sores are a nightmare and have a habit of creeping up at times when we least need them. With our treatments, you can clear up your skin and stop the discomfort that sores cause with ease.