A guide to preventing and treating cold sores using home remedies

Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are small lesions that can appear on your lips, cheeks, chin, or inside the nostrils. They are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). It is estimated that around 50 to 80 percent of American adults have oral herpes. There is no known cure for the condition but there are natural remedies that can reduce the frequency and duration of the sores.

Here are a few of them:

  • Ice cubes – For painful sores, run one ice cube over it until the ice melts. Take a towel or clean cloth and dry the area. Dab a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol then immediately apply it to the sore. Do this for 30 minutes to an hour and the sore should be gone by the next morning.
  • Lysine – Supplement with lysine as soon as you feel a cold sore coming on.
  • Lemon balm – This may help reduce the redness and swelling associated with the fever blister. Apply a compress made of a lemon balm infusion over the affected area to reduce the outbreak.
  • Aloe vera gel – Studies have shown that topically applying aloe vera can soothe the skin when a cold sore breaks out.
  • Jasmine green tea – Green tea calms down inflammation and boosts your immune system.
  • Vitamin C – This is a powerful antioxidant that also works as an antiviral agent. You can get your boost of vitamin C through supplements or by taking vitamin C-rich foods such as citrus, kale, kiwi, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli. (Related: Scientific research finds higher doses of vitamin C result in greater beneficial health effects.)
  • Blueberries – Organically-grown blueberries are some of the best foods that kill off harmful viruses.
  • Astragalus – This is a super herb that has been shown to have an inhibitory effect on the herpes simplex virus.
  • Zinc – Clinical trials have shown that zinc-based creams can reduce cold sores.

To prevent cold sores:

  • Replace your toothbrush regularly – If you are prone to cold sores, make sure that you regularly replace your toothbrush. The herpes virus can stay in the toothbrush and you can get re-infected.
  • Don’t place your toothbrush in the bathroom – To avoid germs lingering on your toothbrush, move your toothbrush to another room besides the bathroom, or put it in a drawer.
  • Avoid sharing intimate items with other people – As much as possible, do not share towels, lipsticks, lip balms, cutlery, or similar items with other people.
  • Avoid kissing people – Be intimate with people you trust. If you are kissing strangers as a sign of goodwill or as a means of introduction, avoid placing your lips on theirs. Instead, try pressing your cheeks slightly on their cheeks.
  • Practice good hygiene habits – If you have a cold sore, avoid touching other parts of the body such as the genitals and eyes to reduce the risk of spreading the infection. It is also highly recommended to wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water.
  • Reduce stress – Cold sores are linked to a weakened immune system. Practice mind-body exercises to reduce the amount of stress you feel.
  • Get enough sleep – Being sleep deprived increases the risk of inflammation in your body and lowers your immune system.

Remember that while HSV-1 is a highly contagious virus, it usually remains inactive until it is triggered by fatigue, injury, or a compromised immune system. Some people may have just one outbreak and have no recurrence while others can have two to three outbreaks a year.

Learn more natural ways to prevent cold sores at Healing.news.

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