Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are infections of the herpes simplex virus. They usually occur around the lips. The herpes simplex virus lies dormant in your body until it is triggered by stress, menstruation, cold or fever, or vitamin and enzyme deficiency. You may feel a tingling or burning sensation at the site of the cold sore before it actually appears. Cold sores can often recur at the same location, and usually last about two weeks. There is no cure, but there are medical treatments and home remedies which can help alleviate the symptoms.
Treat your cold sore with a variety of home remedies. Place an ice cube on the sore, or suck on a Popsicle; the cold may slow the movement of the pain. Try over-the-counter ointments that contain lidocaine or benzocaine, which will numb the pain. Don't pinch the sore or try to drain it. Apply zinc, vitamin E or aloe vera topically. Dab camphor or dimethyl sulfoxide on the sore with a cotton swab twice a day to help stop the growth of the virus. Steep a tea bag in boiling water, then apply the tea bag directly to the cold sore to help the sore disappear in about five days. Apply vaseline or similar ointments to the sore to help ease the dryness and cracking that comes with cold sores. Warm compresses may also help ease any pain.
Take various over-the-counter medicines or supplements by mouth to ease the pain of a cold sore or promote its healing. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as aspirin, Tylenol, or ibuprofen. Take 200 to 500 mg of vitamin C to help the sore heal more quickly. Take 3000 mg of lysine daily between meals, on an empty stomach, to help shorten the duration of the sore. You can also find lysine in yoghurt. Drink tea made of two or three leaves of sage with a teaspoon of powdered ginger added. Homeopathic remedies for cold sores include nat mur, cuttlefish ink, bittersweet and calcium sulphide.
Take antiviral medications for your cold sores if your doctor prescribes them. Antiviral medications currently on the market for cold sores are acyclovir, sold under the brand name Zovirax; famciclovir, sold under the brand name Famvir; and valacyclovir, sold under the brand name Valtrex. Your doctor will probably prescribe them for you if you have had repeated outbreaks of cold sores or if you have identified a trigger that causes cold sores in your body. These drugs will shorten the outbreak and decrease any pain.
Prevent cold sores by avoiding contact with anyone who has a cold sore, since the herpes simplex virus is extremely contagious. Do not kiss or share food utensils or silverware with anyone who has a cold sore outbreak. Wash your hands frequently, especially when you are around someone with cold sores. Use sunblock, as too much exposure to sun can sometimes make cold sores reappear, and don't forget sunblock for your lips. Replace your toothbrush at the beginning of a cold sore outbreak, and again when the outbreak has healed. Avoid stress, which often triggers cold sore outbreaks.