Cold sores are annoying, unsightly and painful, but we all suffer from them from time to time. However, there are plenty of easily accessible home remedies that can get rid of them quickly and simply.
What are Cold Sores?
Starting with tiny itch, small blisters appear around your mouth, often in the corners, sometimes accompanied by swollen lymph glands and a sore throat. Once you’ve had one bout of cold sores, they can reappear. This is because they are caused by a virus which can stay dormant in your system for years, and in fact the Academy of General Dentistry suggests that 50% of people carrying the virus never display any symptoms.
Contrary to popular belief, cold sores are not a sexually transmitted disease (STD), and this confusion stems from the virus that lies behind the sores – the Herpes Simplex Virus 1. There are two types of herpes virus, and it’s the second, HPV-2 one that causes genital herpes, which can be sexually transmitted; however both can be contracted by coming into contact with saliva and bodily secretions from an infected person. In many cases, HPV-1 is passed on during infancy, for example if a child is kissed by a relative with a cold sore. According to the World Health Organization, around 75% of adults over the age of 50 have the HPV-1 virus, so it’s likely that most of us have come into contact with it.
What Causes Cold Sores to Flare Up?
The HPV-1 virus can remain in your system for a long time without any symptoms appearing, but certain factors can trigger an eruption of sores.
If you’re feeling low, have a cold, or worse, the ‘flu, the virus can suddenly reappear, making you feel even worse. Dental treatment can also bring on an attack, as can ultraviolet light, emotional stress, or an injury to the mouth area.
Home Remedies for Cold Sores
There are lots of home remedies that can treat the symptoms of the cold sore virus, but unfortunately the HPV-1 can remain inactive in your body for life.
Aloe vera gel can soothe the itchiness that accompanies the blisters, and provides essential moisture, which prevents the inflammation spreading. Alternating a topical application of aloe with a paste of licorice powder mixed into a little petroleum jelly can bring relief, and as licorice possesses antiviral properties, it can hasten the healing process remarkably.
Another topical remedy is an ointment comprizing of dried, powdered rhubarb and sage mixed with petroleum jelly. Dabbed on the sores, it not only gets rid of them, but can keep them at bay. If you are prone to developing cold sores, I would recommend using this with the onset of a cold, if you have dentistry planned or if you’re feeling under the weather.
Echinacea is great for boosting your immune system, and can be taken in supplement form; for example Nature’s Way Echinacea contains 900mg per capsule and a daily dose can avoid the virus being triggered.
If you like herbal teas, and have some lemon tea in your larder, steep the teabag in a little hot water for several minutes, and, using a cotton pad, dab the cold sores with the concentrated liquid. Allow it to dry before applying some aloe vera gel. If the skin is not broken, you can even add a little freshly squeezed lemon juice to the mixture. However, if the sores are open and weeping, avoid the painfully acidic fresh juice.
Having cold sores, although possibly embarrassing, needn’t be a pain. With these home remedies, you’ll soon feel much better.