Cold sores, also called fever blisters, are annoying and inconvenient groups of small red, swollen, and sore blisters that can appear at any time on the lip and around the mouth. According to the National Institute of Health, as many as 80 percent of people carry the virus that causes cold sores! The virus can go dormant for long periods of time, then resurface in an outbreak. Cold sores will usually start to heal on their own within a few days, but if they are causing you pain or making you feel embarrassed, they can be treated. Here are 7 ways to soothe and stop cold sores!
1. Lysine Supplement
If you are prone to getting cold sores a lot, start taking a lysine supplement. High lysine intake has been shown to be extremely helpful in preventing cold sores and other herpes virus lesions and also may help your body to retain calcium. It is recommended that you take a daily dosage of 3 to 9 grams of lysine to treat an active cold sore outbreak and a daily dosage of 1 gram during periods when the virus is dormant to prevent future outbreaks. In both cases the dosages should be broken down and taken in smaller amounts throughout the day until the desired dosage is reached. If you're not great with taking a daily supplement, try adding more lysine in your diet. Foods like plain yogurt, mangos, apples, pears, fish, and pork are all high in lysine!
2. Avoid Spicy or Acidic Foods
Easy ways to soothe cold sores includes simply changing what you eat while you have an outbreak. The herpes virus that causes cold sores prefers an acid environment. Normally, your body's pH balance should be around 7.4, but when it drops below 7 on the pH scale, your body becomes a perfect target for a cold sore outbreak. To keep your pH above 7, avoid eating acidic foods, such as tomatoes, citrus, carbonated soda or anything with vinegar if it will touch the cold sore area. You want NOTHING acidic around that sore! Following this rule alone to heal a cold sore, along with continual cleaning of the area with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, could cut your cold sore healing time by 50%!
3. Over-the-Counter Creams
Look for medicines that contain numbing agents such as phenol and menthol to reduce cracking and soften scabs. Abreva is an over-the-counter topical remedy used to help speed healing and is one of the most common ways to soothe a cold sore quickly as it minimizes pain. If you tend to get cold sores a lot, ask your doctor or dermatologist if there is any medical cream that can be prescribed to you as well. With either cream though, the key is to apply it as soon as you feel a cold sore coming on. If your cold sore is still causing you pain or discomfort, painkillers such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen will also help.
4. Replace Your Toothbrush
As your cold sore starts to heal, replace anything you may have used in or around your mouth right before or during your cold sore outbreak. This includes your toothbrush and any lipstick, lip gloss, or Chapstick you used. I know, it would stink to toss your favorite lipstick, but if you use it again after your cold sore heals, it may still contain the virus and will cause another outbreak. Definitely do not use any lip makeup while you have a cold sore!
5. Apply Sunscreen
Direct and prolonged sunlight to your lips is another trigger for a cold sore outbreak. Overexposure to UV radiation from the sun can impair your immune system and slow down its infection-fighting responses. This is why too much sun can trigger a cold sore outbreak. Make sure that when you're lathering up to hit the beach or the pool, put some on your lips! There are also special sunscreen lip balms that you can buy to apply easily just to your lips throughout the day. Don't let the winter months fool you though! Especially if you are skiing or snowboarding high up on a mountain, you are very susceptible to the UV radiation still and need to make sure you have UV radiation protection on your lips too!
6. Apply Ice
The cold sore virus needs a warm and moist environment so applying ice as soon as you feel that first tingle or itch will greatly reduce or delay the cold sore. Delaying the cold sore just a few days can get you through an important event coming up that may have been causing the stress leading to the cold sore outbreak in the first place! If you don't have ice around, any cold object will do. The quicker you apply something cold to the area you feel may have an outbreak soon, the better!
7. Boost Your Immune System
When treating a cold sore outbreak, it is important to boost the immune system, which will assist your body to combat the virus. Make sure that you eat a diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, garlic, onion, ginger, and beans as these foods all help boost your immune system. Also, make sure to take plenty of vitamin C and a good daily multivitamin! This should be something you do regardless of having a cold sore to stay healthy and happy!
These ways to soothe and stop cold sores work best when used early on an impending cold sore outbreak so learn to recognize the signs of an impending outbreak. Before you can actually see a cold sore, you will usually be able to feel a slight tingling around your mouth where the cold sore will erupt. You may also be able to feel a small bump or hardness in the skin at this point. Also, avoid kissing, sharing utensils, drinking cups, or other items with a person who has a cold sore. Are cold sore outbreaks an often occurrence for you? What have you found that has helped prevent or treat them?