Understand how you can treat cold sores quickly.
Cold sores (herpes simplex labialis) are painful fluid-filled blisters formed around the mouth; Typically, they form on one side of the lips. They are painful, and you will find it difficult to wait for them to heal automatically. So, how you can get rid of a cold sore fast?
Before answering, let me tell you how these sores develop.
How do cold sores develop?
It is a viral issue caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). There is, however, nothing to fear. We have a long history of living with this virus and have sufficient immunity against it. So, you have no fear of losing your life with these blisters. However, the virus can form local blisters (also called fever blisters) on the skin.
To begin with, you will notice slight tingling and burning sensation on the skin. Then, the burning becomes pronounced on the edges. Ultimately, the sore erupts and a painful, reddish, ugly sores appear.
It begins to dry within a few days, and you will notice dry and crusted edges. Ultimately, it disappears after 2-3 weeks. However, local bacterial infections can prolong its life and make it more painful.
How the virus spreads?
The virus is present in our environment. Majority of use are exposed to it in our early age. It spreads from one person to the other by;
By a close contact with the infected people, For example, when you kiss a person with cold sore, you will get the virus. Similarly, any form of close contact can be dangerous.
By sharing the utensils e.g., mug, fork, lip balm or razor with the person having the sore.
It is possible to get the virus from the person who has not developed the symptoms as the virus is present everywhere.
So, it is practically impossible to avoid the virus.
How can you treat cold sores?
As it is a viral issue, you shouldn't hope for quick recovery in case of a cold sore outbreak. Eventually, your body's immune system has to engage and defeat it. However, there is nothing to worry about or feel embarrassed about. There are some ways you can help your body's immune system and reduce the associated pain and suffering.
The following strategies will help cold sores heal fast;
While killing the virus inside the body is difficult, you can kill the viral particles on the blister. Some prescription drugs and over-the-counter antiviral ointments are available, which can help you in healing. However, you shouldn't expect to heal cold sore overnight.
You will need to consult and get examined by a doctor before using these drugs. You can use the following antiviral medicines after consulting the doctor;
Acyclovir (Zovirax): This antiviral drug is available as a topical ointment and oral tablets.
Order from Welzo's online pharmacy. It comes as both the topical cream and oral tablets.
Penciclovir (Denavir): It is available as a topical cream.
Besides these, some other related drugs are also available as oral pills, e.g.,
An antiviral ointment is also available in your local pharmacies called 'Abreva'. It has docosanol as an active ingredient and is approved for treating cold sores. It is probably the first treatment available for cold sores in most homes and can reduce the healing time.
It is suggested that these treatments should be started as soon as possible for early healing. When you note that your sore is crusting, applying a good moisturiser will immensely help increase the healing process.
Besides drugs, there are many options you can try at home. These natural remedies help in healing without any side effects.
These options mostly address the symptoms. These are;
Applying ice or placing a cool, wet cloth (preferably a towel) on the local area will reduce the swelling and pain. Continue to apply a cold compress for at least 10 minutes, and many times a day will help treat cold sores.
Use pain killers
The pain can be very troublesome as sores are formed on sensitive skin. Using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain killers, e.g., Diclofenac sodium or potassium, ibuprofen, acetaminophen etc., can help you manage the pain. Still, they won't help in fast healing.
Steroidal painkillers are highly prohibited because they can suppress your immune system and slow down the healing process.
Don't touch the sore
The pain can force you to touch or rub the sore. But, this is prohibited. Your hands regularly touch various surfaces and could be loaded with germs. Touching the sores can cause infections and can prolong the healing process. Moreover, the sores are also contagious and can spread to other people. So, don't forget to wash your hands after each accidental touch.
Consider your diet
Sugary juices and sweet dishes can provide food for germs. Some foods, e.g., hot sauces, lemon and citrus, etc., can irritate the sore. You can avoid them, but they are a rich source of vitamin C, the booster of your immune system. A better compromise will be to avoid citrus and take vitamin C supplements.
Vitamin A helps in wound healing and protects the skin. Similarly, vitamins E and C can also help as they are immune boosters. Consult your doctor for a vitamin supplement.
Peppermint oil has anti-septic, anti-bacterial and antiviral properties, and there is some research to reason that it helps fight cold sores. Australian tea tree oil also has antiviral properties and helps to heal cold sores fast.
Aloe Vera gel
Its use for cold sores also has research backing. It is also effective for sunburn that can exacerbate the sores. A 2016 research study published in the Journal of Dentistry found that the 0.2-5% aloe vera gel has inhibitory effects on the HSV-1. This gel can be used on cold sores as it has no toxic effects.
The use of sunblock or sunscreen is very useful as sunburn can aggravate cold sores.
General lifestyle changes that improve the immune function, e.g., stress reduction and regular exercise, will be helpful. You should avoid engaging in oral sex as it can also be transmitted to the genitals.
Can you prevent cold sores?
One thing important and frustrating about the cold sores is that they will reoccur again and again. Why this occurs? The reason lies in the nature of the virus. Once you are exposed to the virus and get infected, the virus will remain inside your body for life. Actually, the virus is not fully cleared from the body, it is just suppressed.
The virus hides from your immune system and will take refuge in the nearest nerves. As the immune system weakens, it re-emerges from the hiding and will form the sore on the same spot.
So, what can be done? Although it is impossible to drag virus from its hiding, it is possible to avoid the conditions which favour its re-emergence. The following conditions are responsible for the re-emergence of virus;
A weak immune system
An exposure to strong sunlight
Cold and fever
Psychological and emotional stresses
The most important thing that favours the re-emergence of virus is the stress. So, the prevention of cold sores requires a successful management of stress. You can try mediation along with other stress relieving techniques.
We have detailed the procedure of mindfulness mediation technique in another article. The article focuses its effects on erectile function. Nevertheless, you can also benefit from it in any stress. Click here to read the article.
Cold sores are viral skin eruptions with a burning or tingling sensation on the lips. Normally, the cold sore heal spontaneously over time. But, to combat the pain, you can use antiviral medication, home remedies and general lifestyle changes.
Good hygiene is required to combat viral issues of the skin.
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