What is a Cold Sore?
Cold sores are unappealing sores that snatch the beauty of lips. A cold sore is a type of infection in which small lesions or blisters appear on or around the mouth. It is caused by virus, named herpes simplex virus (HSV). Cold sores are commonly known as fever blisters. They usually go away within 2-3 weeks. Usually, cold sores are interpreted to be same as canker sores. But, both are very different from each other. Canker sores are the result of bacterial infection and appear inside the mouth. On the other hand, cold sores surface outside the mouth and unlike canker sores, they are highly contagious.
Cold sores are caused when the HSVs come in contact with abraded skin or oral mucosa tissue of the mouth. Once entered, this virus never leaves the body. These viruses move from mouth to the central nervous system and remain latent. When they reactivate, they form blisters or small sores on and around the lips. Some of the common causes that trigger cold sores are:
- Stress and anxiety
- Exposure to sunlight
- Local skin trauma
- Lip tattooing
- Deep sadness
- Neural or dental surgery
Following symptoms are usually observed in case of cold sores:
- Acute herpetic gingivostomatitis, which refers to inflammation of mucosa of gums and cheeks.
- Pain around the mouth
- Glands in the neck or other body parts gets swollen
- Sore throat
- Itching on the infected area
- Painful ulcers
- Tenderness and tingling
- Red raised blisters
- Burning sensation
- Elevated body temperature
- Lip swelling
- Tongue and mouth paining
Home Remedies for Cold Sores
How to get rid of cold sores? There are numerous natural ways to heal cold sores. Let’s have a look at some simple and natural home remedies that make cold sores go away.
1. Ice Pack
One of the fastest and simplest methods to heal cold sore pain is to use an ice pack. Take some ice cubes. Put them directly on the cold sores for some time. Ice will provide instant relief in the swelling. Hold it as long as possible, then, apply some Vaseline on the infected area to prevent bacterial attack. For best results, practise the method thrice a day.
It is one of the best natural cold sore treatments. Licorice is known for its anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. All you need to do is to prepare a paste of one tablespoon of licorice root powder and half teaspoon of fresh water. Mix it well and gently apply a thin layer of the mix on the sores. Cover the entire infected area. Petroleum jelly can also be used in place of water.
You can also drink tea prepared from licorice roots powder.
3. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil possesses anti-fungal, antiseptic, and antibiotic properties. For healing cold sores, tea tree oil is a beneficial remedy. Soak a cotton ball in some tea tree oil. Apply the soaked cotton ball directly on the sores. Let it dry up naturally. Practice it two times a day for better results.
Note- If you have sensitive skin, don’t apply tea tree oil directly. Mix it with equal parts of water and then apply.
To get relief in cold sores and pain arising due to them, milk is a useful remedy. Milk helps to speed up the healing process. Take one tablespoon of milk and soak a cotton ball in it. Apply it directly on the sores and leave it for a longer time. Finally, wipe the area with a clean towel to remove the remains of milk. If necessary, apply some petroleum jelly.
5. Orange Oil
Orange oil is effective to heal cold sores. With the help of a cotton ball or clean cloth, apply some orange oil directly on the blisters. To get instant results, follow the process thrice a day.
6. Hydrogen Peroxide
Take a cotton ball and soak it in 1 tbsp of hydrogen peroxide solution. Put the soaked cotton ball directly on the sores. Hold it for five minutes and then, rinse it with clean water. It’s a good remedy to get rid of cold sores.
7. Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil is another perfect remedy for cold sores. It acts as a disinfectant against the herpes simplex virus. Clean the infected area with water. Soak a cotton ball first in water and then in peppermint oil. Then, apply it directly on the cold sores. Practice it 2 times a day.
Echinacea is known for its strong immune building properties and is a good herbal remedy for cold sores. To cure cold sores, mix few drops of Echinacea tincture with water. Follow the instructions given on the bottle of Echinacea tincture, before taking it.
Echinacea tea bags are also available in the market. Enjoy the tea in your mouth and let it cover the sores by flowing over.
You can also use goldenseal extract and Echinacea mixture.
9. Vitamin C and E
Vitamins are effective for cold sores. Vitamin C helps in boosting the white blood cells, which protects the body from infections. Vitamin E is helpful in relieving the irritation and discomfort arising as a result of cold sores. Foods, like broccoli, tomatoes, kiwi, red berries, green and red bell papers, and spinach are rich in vitamin C. Nuts, avocados, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables are rich in vitamin E. Consuming these foods in your diet will definitely help in curing the cold sores.
10. Cornstarch Paste
Cornstarch paste soothes cold sores and provides relief in the itchy burning pain. It is a natural home remedy for cold sores. Take one tablespoon of cornstarch in a bowl. Mix one teaspoon of fresh water in it. Stir it well and slowly add more water to form a paste. You are required to apply it directly on the cold sores before going to sleep. Wash it off with clean water in the morning.
11. Witch Hazel
For years, the leaves and barks of witch hazel are used for treating skin problems. Take one teaspoon of witch hazel and soak a cotton ball in it. Place the soaked ball on the infected area. Practice it twice or thrice a day for best results.
12. Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera is a good healing agent. It is helpful in curing cold sores. Cut one fleshy aloe vera leaf. Dab the gel directly on the sores. If aloe plant is not available, you can use packaged aloe vera gel. Dip a cotton ball in half teaspoon of aloe vera gel. Place the cotton on the sores. It is the quick way to alleviate cold sores.
13. Vanilla Extract
Vanilla contains anti-infection agents, which fights against the viral infections. Take a sterile cotton swab and dunk it in the pure vanilla extract. Apply it directly on the sores 3-4 times a day.
Note- Make use of 100% pure vanilla extract for effective results.
Exposure to sunlight is a trigger for cold sores virus. The ultraviolet rays of the sun directly affect the sensitive skin and leads to outbreaks. Before going out in the sun, apply a lip balm enriched with SPF 15 on your lips. You can also use sunscreen lipstick.
15. Sea Salt
Sea salt is effective for healing cold sores. Apply some sea salt directly on the infected area. Keep in mind that the granules of the salt should stick on the sores. Rinse it off after 10 minutes.
16. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is known for its anti-viral properties. These properties help to fight against the HSV virus. It is the fast way to get rid of cold sores overnight.
17. Basil Leaves (Tulsi)
Holy basil is known for its antibacterial and anti-viral properties. Basil leaves’ tea is the best cure for cold sores. Put some basil leaves in boiling water to prepare tea. Drink this warm basil tea to heal cold sores. You can also use tincture prepared from tulsi plant to treat the problem.
18. High-Lysine Food
Lysine is a protein, which helps in protecting the body from the attacks of herpes virus that is the main cause of cold sores. Dairy products, like milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. and lean meat are rich in lysine. To prevent cold sores, consume these high-lysine foods.
Lysine tablets are also available at the medical stores. You can also use these tablets to cure the cold sores.
19. Olive Leaf
The extracts from the leaves of olives act as a natural antibiotic for the treatment of cold sores. It fights against the viral infections.
Garlic is rich in a compound, called Kyolic, which possesses antiviral properties. It is known for speedy healing of cold sores. Cut one garlic clove into two pieces. Place one piece directly on the cold sores.
Take some garlic cloves and crush them to make a paste. Apply the fresh paste on the cold sores. Else, you can have two garlic capsules daily.
21. Petroleum Jelly
Petroleum jelly works as a shield against the bacteria. It helps in softening the irritated skin. Cover the infected area with some petroleum jelly in order to reduce the severity of cold sores.
To get rid of cold sores, alcohol can be an effective remedy. Take some rubbing alcohol and dab a cotton swab in it. Put it on the cold sores. This will reduce the itching and inflammation of the affected area.
Note- Don’t let alcohol go into your mouth or lick your lips.
Earwax is the simplest remedy for curing cold sores. Though, this remedy is somewhat messy, but effective. Earwax has anti-herpes, anti-micrococcus, and anti-staphylococcal properties. Apply some earwax directly on the cold sore. Leave it for some time. It will stop tingling on lips, caused due to cold sores.
Chamomile has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. Use chamomile to prepare tea or as a tincture. Alternatively, apply some chamomile oil directly onto the cold blisters. This remedy will heal the problem quickly.
Honey is a natural wound healer. It is also useful for healing cold sores. Apply some honey on the small blisters twice or thrice a day.
Note- Do not lick the honey from your lips.
26. Lavender Oil
Lavender also possesses soothing properties. To heal the cold sores, put some drops of lavender oil on a cotton ball. Place it directly on the cold sores.
27. Nail Polish Remover
Nail polish remover can also be a helpful and easy remedy for the treatment of cold sores. Take a cotton pad and dip it in a very small quantity of nail polish remover. Apply the dipped cotton pad gently on the cold sores. It helps in fast drying of the cold sores.
Notes- 1)Makeuse of low-flame nail polish remover.
2) Keep your mouth closed while removing applying remover on the sores.
3) If you feel inflammation or pain, immediately rinse the affected area with cold
28. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is one of the oldest home remedies for cold sores. Put a few drops of apple cider vinegar on a cotton swab and apply it onto the small irritating blisters. For more effective results, you can mix it with lemon juice.
Note- Don’t apply apple cider vinegar directly on the cold sores; otherwise, it will sting.
When you experience the initial symptoms of cold sores, like tingling and inflammation around lips, use Neosporin ointment. For better results, first apply rubbing alcohol and then, Neosporin. It will reduce the risk of outbreak.
30. Warm Compress
Hold a hot water bottle on the cold sores. You can also dip a towel in hot water and place it on the affected region. It will ease the pain, occurring due to sores.
Homeopathic Remedies for Cold Sores
From the above mentioned home remedies, we are clued-up with what we can put on cold sores? Still, some people want to go for homeopathic treatment. So, here are some homeopathic remedies for healing cold sores.
- Borax : It is used for herpes outbreaks.
- Apis mellifica : It is used when the cold sores are tender to touch and are accompanied by swelling, redness and pain.
- Dulcamara : It is used when sores erupts due to the rainy season.
- Arsenicum album : Provide relief in the burning pain.
- Graphites : It is used when honey-like substance oozes out from the sores.
- Natrum muriaticum : It is used for red sores on lips, chin, face and nostril area.
Dosage: Take one dose of homeopathic medicine and wait for the response. Take the second only when effective results are seen. The frequency of dosage wholly depends on the condition of the person. For more information on dosage, you should consult a doctor.
The most important thing to avoid the reactivation of herpes simplex virus is to follow some preventive steps, which are mentioned below.
- Do not come in touch with the body fluids of the person, suffering from cold sores.
- Do not kiss the infected person.
- Do not use lipsticks, spoons, drinking cups, lip balms, straws, towels, etc. that have been used by the infected person.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and lukewarm water to prevent the spread of infection.
- Do not touch or pop the sores.
- Fried and acidic foods increase the chances of outbreak, so avoid them.
- Change your tooth brush regularly.
- Plenty of sleep will reduce the stress, which prevents cold sores.
- Proper medication is must if the cold sores are severe.
Alice grew up in Los Angeles and currently lives in California, though she likes to visit home frequently. She graduated from a marketing specialist degree and worked at the core of outreach teams for more than 5 years.