Cold sores or fever blister affects millions of people every year. It appears as a fluid filled, tiny blisters on lips, around the mouth or inside the mouth. It may also occur on the nose or on the chin. And believe me, the appearance of fever blister is enough to scare you and force you to look for a solution to get rid of it as soon as possible. More than half of the population of the United states who are between 14 to 49 years of age suffers from cold sores every year. Of course it is not a serious life threatening disease, but uncomfortable and unsightly.
Causative agent of cold sore and risk factors
Cold sore is caused due to herpes simplex virus-1 and is extremely contagious. The virus causing cold sores spreads by direct contact or through the saliva of the infected person. It is not necessary that infected people may suffer from fever blister. Many times the virus causing cold sores remain dormant in your body. They reactivate on exposure to the sunlight, due to stress, hormonal changes, fatigue, reduces immunity, trauma or fever and results in the outbreak.
Cold sore symptoms
No doubt fever blisters are painful. In fact, you may experience tingling and burning around the affected area a few days before the appearance of the blisters. Some victims also experience fever, a sore throat or swollen glands before the appearance of the blisters. The cold sores appear as clusters of white and small blisters. With time they burst, fluid oozes out and crust is formed.
Managing cold sores
Even if not treated, a cold sore usually heals up in one or 2 weeks. Still, if you approach a dermatologist, he will recommend you antiviral medication. But, the truth is if you want to fasten healing you cannot trust over the counter medicines as they are not much effective in the case of cold sores. The only option you have is to try home remedies for cold sores.
Home remedies for cold sores treat the condition in two ways. Either they help to dry out the fever blisters. It is believed that moisture provides the appropriate environment for the virus to thrive. So in the absence of moisture the virus is killed. But some believe that dry, split and scab is uncomfortable. Well, I too prefer that to treat fever blisters we should follow the moist route as ripping open of the dry scab is really painful. Below are 18 effective natural solutions to get rid of fever blister.
18 home remedies for cold sores
The first line of treatment to get rid of fever blister fast should always be ice. It reduces pain, redness, and swelling. But never apply ice directly to the affected area or it may cause frostbite. Better wrap an ice cube in a cheesecloth and apply it to the affected part for 5 minutes.
Repeat this 3-4 times for a few days.
It is a second most popular home remedy for cold sores. Rich with proteins it not only promotes the healing, but also provides a cooling effect. Soak a swab in cold milk and apply it to the cold sores. Wait for 10-15 minutes and then clean it off with another cotton swab.
Remember to discard both the cotton swabs. This is followed by the application of petroleum jelly to the affected part. Repeat this 3 times in a day.
3. Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil has been found effective in treating a number of skin issues including fever blisters. It is possessed with antiviral properties. But tea tree oil should not be applied to the skin without being diluted. Mix tea tree oil with water in ratio 1:3.
Apply this mixture to the affected part 3 times in a day.
4. Vanilla extract
Vanilla extract is alcohol based. It makes virus unable to thrive. Also, it will prevent the outbreak of cold sores in the future. Better use organic vanilla extract for this purpose. Soak a cotton swab with vanilla extract and apply it to the affected area.
Repeat this 4 times in a day.
Garlic is antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal. It is one of the best home remedies for cold sores. Also, it reduces inflammation and swelling. Crush a pod of garlic and apply it to the fever blister. After 15 minutes, wipe it off with a cotton swab.
Repeat this 3 times in a day until the sores completely disappear.
6. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is not only anti-inflammatory but also provide a cooling effect. Extract the gel from fresh aloe vera plant and apply it to the sores. Repeat this 4 times in a day.
Echinacea is antiviral. It also boosts the immune system and prevents further outbreaks of cold sores. To get rid of fever blisters soon drink echinacea tea 2 times in a day. You may also buy echinacea pill from pharma shops.
One of the most tannin home remedies for cold sores is yogurt. Better use yogurt that has live culture. It contains probiotics that improve digestion, boosts immunity and promotes healing. Apply plain yogurt directly to the cold sores several times in a day. Also, include yogurt in your food.
9. Licorice root
Licorice root contains glycyrrhizin. Glycyrrhizin is antiviral and also is anti-inflammatory. Mix 2 teaspoon of licorice powder and sufficient amount of water to make a paste. Apply this paste to the affected area with the help of a cotton swab.
Repeat this several times in a day.
Cornstarch has proved to be one of the effective home remedies for cold sores to get rid of burning and itching caused due to it. It also neutralizes the pH and makes the environment unsuitable for the bacteria to thrive. Take a teaspoon of corn starch and add a sufficient amount of water to make a paste.
Apply this paste to the affected area with the help of a cotton swab before going to the bed and rinse it off in the morning and apply a layer of petroleum jelly. Repeat this until healing takes place.
11. Hydrogen peroxide
It is a natural disinfected and is easily available in the pharmaceutical shops. It makes the environment dry. The virus causing a cold sore are unable to thrive without moisture. Soak a cotton ball with 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and apply it to the fever blister.
After 10 minutes, rinse it off and pat dry. Repeat this 4 times in a day for a few days.
12. Green tea
Green tea is one of the effective home remedies for cold sores. It contains tannin that promotes healing. Also, it boosts immunity and prevents recurrent outbreaks. Brew a green tea bag in a half cup of steaming water for 5-minutes and then keep it in the freezer. After 30 minutes place it over the sores. This will relive burning and inflammation. Repeat this several times in a day.
Also, include drinking 2 cups of green tea in your daily routine.
13. Peppermint oil
The virus particles that float around a fever blister van be killed by peppermint oil because peppermint oil is antimicrobial. Apply peppermint oil as soon as you see the first sign of fever blister erupting around your lips or nose. Rinse the affected area with plain water. Dip a cotton swab with clean water. Now dip a cotton swab in peppermint oil. This will dilute the oil. Apply the diluted oil to cold sores.
Repeat this 2 times in a day till you find improvement. Make sure to discard the cotton swab after use to prevent reinfection.
14. Witch hazel hydrosol
Native American has been using the leaves and bark of witch hazel since ages to treat skin diseases. Now a day you can easily find the bottle of witch hazel hydrosol in drug store waiting for you to be grabbed and used to treat skin ailments. Take a teaspoon of witch hazel and soak a cotton swab with it.
Apply it directly to the affected area. Repeat this 2 times in day.
15. Red wine
It is a folk remedy to treat cold sore. Red wine contains antioxidants and relieves inflammation. Put a little amount of red wine in a bowl. Let the liquid evaporate and slather the affected part with remaining solidified dregs.
This will ease the pain. Repeat this for a few days.
16. Oregano Oil
If you have oregano plant in your kitchen garden you must have noticed no pest approach it. Also, you must have seen that fungus never grows on it. The reason behind this is that the natural oils present in oregano are antimicrobial. Oregano oil is little expensive as compared to other home remedies, but is also very powerful. It reduces swelling, promotes healing and kills the virus present in the blisters.
Use a q-tip and apply 1-2 drops of oregano oil to the sores. Discard q-tip after use to prevent the spread of infection.
17. Lemon balm
Lemon balm is a member of the mint family. It is a wonderful home remedy to banish fever blisters. Steep leaves of lemon balm in a cup of steaming water.
Strain the solution and with the help of a cotton swab, apply it to the affected part. Be regular with its application.
18. Rubbing alcohol
Although I do not prefer this method as it dries up the cold sores. But it is widely used method to get rid of cold sores. And yes, it is effective too. Better use alcohol wipes, and after single use discard it. This followed by the application of petroleum jelly. This will not only keep the affected area moist but also keep the microorganisms at bay.
*If you do not have alcohol wipes you may also use q-tips or cotton swab soaked in alcohol for the same purpose.
Home remedies for cold sores not only shortens the duration of the outbreak, but also provides respite from the symptoms.Besides the home remedies you also, you need to take care of your diet. It is important to boost immunity. Eat food that neutralizes your body pH level. The virus causing cold sores thrive in acidic, moist and warm environment. So eat foods that neutralize the body’s pH. This will also prevent recurrence of fever blisters in the future.
Lets us have a look over the diet suggested for an individual suffering from cold sores:
- Eat foods that are low in glycemic index such as oats, whole grains, vegetables and fresh fruits.
- Avoid foods with high glycemic index such as potatoes, pastas and breads.
- Avoid eating fatty foods and refined sugars.
- Reduce the intake of processed foods, junk foods.
- Avoid alcohol and smoking.
- Say no to high-fructose corn syrup.
- Eat foods rich in magnesium such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, whole grains, yogurt, bananas, avocados, dried fruits and dark chocolates.
- Eats foods rich in calcium, for example, kale, dairy products like whole milk, yogurt, sardines, shellfish, broccoli, cheese and bok choy.
- Eat foods rich in potassium such as banana, coconut water, yogurt, fish, dark leafy vegetables, potato skin, mushrooms, avocados and squash.
- Eat foods rich in Vitamin E- Vitamin E is an antioxidant, It minimizes inflammation, treats damaged skin and relieves from pain. Add foods rich I vitamin E in your diet, such as almonds, spinach, sweet potato, sunflower, olive oil and avocados. You can also take capsules of vitamin E,
- Eat foods rich in vitamin C- Vitamin C boosts the count of white blood cells. It boosts body immunity and health of the skin. Add oranges, kale, grapes, Indian gooseberries. Broccoli, grapefruit, kiwi and sprouts to your diet.
- Increase the intake of zinc- Zinc is required in traces, but it is essential for our body. It reduces inflammation, maintain health and boosts the immunity. Foods rich in zinc are mushrooms, chicken, turkey, salmon, yogurt, cashew, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds and eggs.
- Take L-lysine- L-lysine is an amino acid that treats herpes naturally when applied to the affected part of taken orally. The recommended dose of L-lysine is 1,000mg 3 times in a day. Foods rich in L-lysine are chicken, fish, legumes, turkey and vegetables.
To check the frequent outbreaks, avoid stress. Try meditation, yoga, and exercises. Having a warm bath, listening to music and sipping chamomile tea are a few ways to relieve stress. Also make sure not to step out in the sun without applying sunscreen to your face and lips.
As discussed above cold sores is very contagious. To prevent it from spreading take following precautions during the breakout:
- Do not share food, drinks, spoons, chopsticks, tooth brush, toothpastes, soap, face wash and make up with others during the outbreaks.
- Avoid kissing
- Avoid intimate contact.
- Avoid close contact with babies, elderly and individuals with weak immune system.
- Wash your hands frequently.
Point you need to keep in mind to prevent reinfection:
- Do not touch fever blisters. After the application of home remedies to the affected part better clean your hands with soapy water.
- Always remember cotton swabs, q-tips, and wipes should be used one at a time and should be discarded after use.
- Discard the tooth brush
- Better avoid lipstick, lip balm and other makeup during outbreak and if you have used you will have to discard it to prevent reinfection.
Do remember cold sores cannot be cured. Once the virus has entered your body, it won’t leave you. Some people may suffer from only one episode of cold sores. Others may have frequent outbreaks. The home remedies listed above, along with the diet and precautionary measures will treat the symptoms, boost body immunity and prevent the recurrence. But if you do not get treated in 15 days, or suffers from atopic dermatitis, or have a cold sore near your eyes do meet your dermatologist.
Hope you like this article. Do share your experience with us.