Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus, a virus which lies dormant in many people until a dip in the body's defences can cause the dreaded "fever blisters" to appear. They most commonly appear on the lips, and their arrival is preceded by a tingling sensation. A few days later, the red, painful-looking spot manifests. They are visible for about a week, and during this period the blister bursts and dries up until the scab falls off. Topical alcohol can speed up the process, so that you get rid of your cold sore much sooner.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Cotton swabs
- Benzyl alcohol or isopropyl rubbing alcohol
- Ice cubes
Pour a small amount of alcohol into the lid of the bottle or a small container. Use benzyl alcohol or isopropyl rubbing alcohol, which are available at pharmacies.
Dip the cotton swab into the alcohol.
Dab the affected area with the cotton swab. This might sting a little. If it's very bothersome, apply an ice cube. The cold can also help to get rid of the cold sore.
Repeat several times a day, until the cold sore starts to disappear, which could be in as little as 24 hours.
Tips and warnings
- Cold sores appear when your immune system suffers due to stress, fatigue or an illness. The best prevention is by ensuring you get enough rest and consuming vitamin supplements to help your body to fight the virus. vitamin C and vitamin B12 are especially beneficial to the immune system.
- Alcohol swabs can be purchased prepackaged from pharmacies or online stores. These are handy when travelling or to take into work.
- Cold sores are also contagious, so avoid kissing anyone while you have one or sharing things like lip balm, towels and cups. If you use lip balm on your cold sore, throw it away after the sore clears to prevent reinfecting yourself.
- Avoid touching the cold sore, to prevent spreading the infection. Wash your hands after touching it and never touch your eyes afterwards, since there is a small but possible risk of spreading the infection, which can lead to serious problems.
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