Winter weather is right around the corner, and that unfortunately means that cold sores will begin to appear in full force. Cold sores, those pesky and painful blisters associated with the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1), can be painful and unsightly, particularly during colder months.
After contracting the virus that causes cold sores, you might only get one outbreak and then live cold sore-free. Or, you might be like the thousands of people who suffer from regular cold sores. These can be triggered by a number of factors including cold weather, harsh winds, stress or illness—all things that can hinder your immune system’s powerful virus-fighting abilities.
Cold sores can generally be spotted early on when they are first forming because they cause a tingling or burning sensation on the lips. But, by the time you notice these first signs, the cold sore will already be forming and will soon rear its ugly, red and blistering head. Cold sores usually last around a week before drying up and healing, but a week can feel like an eternity when you’re dealing with a pus-filled, painful blister.
Healing a cold sore
Although cold sores will heal on their own in time, most people prefer to not endure the irritation or pain without trying a few remedies. There are many treatments on the market that are designed to prevent and heal cold sores, but medications aren’t always effective or free of side effects, nor are they a desirable option for people looking to live a more natural lifestyle.
Thankfully, there are many products and home remedies that are all-natural and come with antiviral, antimicrobial and immune-boosting elements that are effective against cold sores. Next time you feel a cold sore emerging, try one or two of these natural home remedies to relieve your symptoms and heal the cold sore faster.
- Ice: One of the most common and simple home remedies for cold sores is ice. The cooling nature of an ice cube or ice pack can help relieve pain, reduce swelling and lessen redness. If you’re using an ice pack, make sure to wrap it in a thin towel to not transmit the virus from the sore to the pack and to others.
- Increase vitamin C: Vitamin C is the body’s best provider of antioxidants and can bolster your immune system to fight against foreign invaders and viruses like herpes simplex. Increasing your intake of vitamin C-rich foods like fruits or taking a vitamin C supplement may help your immune system heal the cold sore.
- Cold sore supplements: Some natural supplements formulated for cold sore outbreaks are filled with herbs that have powerful immune-boosting properties. Since a cold sore outbreak is linked to your immune system, you can help prevent outbreaks and clear up cold sores faster by taking supplements that help reduce inflammation, relieve pain and bolster immunity.
- Aloe vera: Although you might have some aloe vera gel on-hand to treat a nasty sunburn, you can also try applying some to your cold sore for pain and inflammation relief. Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can help heal your cold sore quickly.
- Lemon balm: Lemon balm is found in many lip balms and can sometimes help reduce the redness and swelling of a cold sore. While this remedy may not help symptoms of pain, lemon balm may help you hide the appearance of the cold sore if you’re worried about how it looks. Applying a lip balm with lemon balm will also help keep your lips moisturized while your cold sore dries and heals.
- Witch hazel: Witch hazel is a common natural product known for its ability to provide relief from irritation and inflammation. Dabbing a bit of witch hazel on top of your cold sore can help ease the irritation caused by the blister and may also help the blister dry out and heal sooner.
- Lifestyle changes: Since many cold sore triggers have to do with lifestyle elements like your stress level, it can be helpful to take steps to manage your stress when you get an outbreak. Taking adaptogens, meditating and improving your diet and sleep routine can all contribute to healthier levels of stress, which in turn may help reduce the duration of your cold sore outbreaks.
If you have multiple, painful cold sore outbreaks back-to-back, it might be beneficial to speak to a doctor about medication to mitigate your outbreaks. But for the average cold sore appearance, home remedies can be a safe, inexpensive and effective way to clear those pesky blisters fast.