How to get rid of a cold sore.
According to the World Health Organization, around two-thirds of adults aged 50 and older have HSV-1. The University of Michigan's Health Service estimates that 50 percent of American kindergarten-age children already have HSV-1.
The virus does not always cause symptoms. The Academy of General Dentistry state that only around 30 percent of those with HSV-1 will show signs of the infection, namely cold sores.
While a majority of HSV-1 cases involve oral herpes or cold sores, around 40 percent of cases involve genital sores. Although related, the genital herpes virus (HSV-2) and HSV-1 are usually unique in presentation.
Cold sores usually appear on the upper body, mainly around the lips and mouth, but they can emerge anywhere on the skin, including the tongue. In infants, cold sores are often mistaken for canker sores.
Cold sores caused by HSV-1 often last little over a week and then clear up on their own. There's currently no cure, and infections are lifelong. However there are ways to decrease the length, intensity, and frequency of outbreaks.
Drugs are available, but many remedies use common grocery store ingredients and household staples.
Compounds that are antiviral, antimicrobial, and immune-boosting are often good for treating cold sores.
Some remedies help limit the spread of the virus. Others reduce the chance of further infections or decrease pain and discomfort.
Not every treatment works for every individual, but a wide range of natural products may help reduce symptoms and prevent future flare-ups.
Cold sore on lips.
There is a large range of natural remedies that may reduce cold sore symptoms.
lip balms with at least 1 percent lemon balm
lemon tea and lemon tea compresses
peppermint, mint, and witch hazel oil
aloe vera gel, which is available to buy online, to soothe inflamed sores while providing crucial moisture.
licorice root, which contains glycyrrhizic acid, considered to be an antiviral
licorice powder, mixed with water or petroleum jelly and applied directly to sores
echinacea as an immune booster, best consumed in tea or supplement form. Echinacea is available to buy online.
lysine cream or l-lysine supplements, as l-lysine may boost the immune system and aid cell repair
milk, which contains antibodies and l-lysine
cornstarch paste, made of equal parts starch and water
rhubarb and sage mixtures
Vitamin E helps the body repair damaged skin cells and grow new ones. Vitamin E-rich food choices include nuts, whole wheats, and leafy greens. Vitamin E oils are also available.
Vitamin C can boost levels of white cells, the body's main infection-fighting cells. Vitamin C-rich foods are often red, orange, or deep green in color. These include most berries, tomatoes, peppers, kiwis, broccoli, and spinach.
There are also over the counter (OTC) medications available to treat cold sores symptoms. Many offer child-friendly dosages.
Abreva and Zilactin, which are both available to buy online, may help reduce recovery time
Anbesol and Orajel numb sores, lessening pain
Zinc oxide creams applied to scabs may kill virus cells released from the sore
Hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol keep cold sores clean
Pain- and inflammation-reducing medications like ibuprofen can also help
People with cold sores should seek medical care if the sores do not improve within a few weeks, if symptoms are severe, or if sores continue to weep.
Complications from HSV-1 are rare but possible. People with weakened immune systems should seek medical advice, as should those with frequent outbreaks.
Complications can arise when the virus spreads to others parts of the body. For example, the virus can spread to the fingertips, as with herpes whitlow, or eyes as with herpes keratitis.
Commonly prescribed treatments for cold sores include anti-viral tablets and creams. According to the British National Health Service (NHS), creams are usually only effective if applied when the sores first appear.