Cold sores are inflamed blisters in or around the mouth, that can leave a sufferer feeling uncomfortable and self-conscious.
Cold sores are
caused when you are infected with the Herpes Simples Virus and while there are treatments for cold sores, there aren’t any cures and once you contract the virus it stays in your body for life.
Unfortunately that means there’s always a chance a cold sore will emerge when you’re feeling run down.
Cold sores can be embarrassing because they’re so obvious and can last up to ten days. But the good news is that you can help to cut the healing time of the cold sores down by trying different treatments, phew!
Here we’ve answered some of the most common questions about cold sores and rounded up the best natural remedies there are to help you get back to your normal self…
Are cold sores contagious?
Cold sores are only contagious if you have a flare up – so if you share a water bottle with someone who has the virus but doesn’t have an active cold sore, the chances you’ll contract the virus are extremely limited.
What are the stages of cold sores?
Cold sores progress through five stages over 7 – 10 days:
- Initial Symptoms: Most sufferers begin with symptoms like tightness, tingling or soreness around the lips for 1 – 2 days.
- Progression: Clumps of red and fluid filled blisters will start forming as the infection develops in days 2 – 4.
- Rupture: The blisters might burst open and can be really painful. The exposed sores will start scabbing over as the body begins the healing process on days 4-5.
- Scabbing: Scabs will form on days 5 – 8. They’ll probably be itchy and sore and could even crack open and bleed, but it’s best not to pick them.
- Resoluton: The scabs will begin to peel off when you’re body has the virus back under control, at around day 8 – 10 of the cycle and your skin underneath might feel a little red or raw.
Can I wear make up when I have a cold sore?
It’s best to avoid wearing make up until the scab has appeared in it’s final stage as you don’t want to aggravate it. It’s hard, but you’ll be back to looking your best sooner if you avoid it!
What over the counter products help with cold sores?
If you get a flare up there are treatments that can help to reduce the healing time of a cold sore. Your local chemist will offer a range of over the counter remedies that will help – Bonjela, Compeed and Zovirax all have creams and gels and Boots have their own version too.
Five natural remedies to help beat cold sores
While over the counter products can help to cut healing time, there’s also some simple natural remedies that have been proven to help heal them quicker too. Here’s our pick of the best…
Cold sores usually flare up when you’re run down. So the best point of defence to start with when you’re feeling a flare up coming is to make sure you’re getting enough of those vital vitamins and antioxidants – especially amino acid Lysine, Vitamin C and Vitamin B complex. Citrus fruits like oranges are a great source of Vitamin C, red meat and dairy products are great sources of Lysine, while leafy greens and nuts and pulses are a good source of Vitman B complex.
Stress can contribute to a weakened immune system and therefore increase your chances of a flare up, so it’s time to try and feel more relaxed. Meditation exercises and deep breathing could help, or you could try a relaxing exercise routine like yoga.
While it won’t reduce the healing time of your cold sore, ice can help with some of the discomfort it causes and help to reduce the inflammation. Just keep a cold pack handy and apply it directly to the sores when you need some relief.
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Lemon Balm is a herb (and a member of the mint family) and using an organic lip balm that contains at least 1% Lemon Balm extract has proven effective in helping to treat and prevent cold sores. Try Simply Herbs’ Lemon Balm Lip Salve (£3.99.) Alterntively you could make a compress of lemon balm infusion and apply it to the sore.
It’s not just an excuse to hide away while you’re having a flare up, because getting enough sleep is vital to helping your immune system function properly. So rest up and give your body a fighting chance to keep the virus at bay.