Since the blisters come and go, the goal of every cold-sore veteran is to make sure they’re absent a lot more than they’re present. Once the virus is with you, you have to mount a constant campaign to keep it discouraged. However, you’ll learn to recognize the telltale tingling or burning sensation that notifies you of a sore’s imminent arrival, and if you’re prepped ahead of time, you can pepper it with your defensive home remedies.
First Aid for Cold Sores
Apply ice directly to the sore. It will bring down the swelling and ease the pain temporarily. If you use this tactic early enough in the game — at the first sign of tingling — you may end up with a smaller sore than you otherwise would have.
You can also use aspirin for pain relief, and it may have an added benefit. The results of one study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggested that taking 125 milligrams of aspirin a day can cut the time a herpes infection remains active by 50 percent.
Vanquish the Virus
Time and again, the amino acid lysine emerges as the hands-down healer for cold sores. When you’re having an outbreak, take 3,000 milligrams daily until the sore goes away. Research has shown that it thwarts the replication (copying) of the herpes virus.
Herbal healers commonly recommend lemon balm (also called melissa), which is used throughout Europe to treat herpes simplex 1. Its essential oils contain substances that have been shown to inhibit the virus. In German studies, people with recurrent cold sores who used a lemon balm ointment regularly had less frequent outbreaks, or stopped developing the sores altogether. Look for a lemon balm ointment in health food stores, and use it as needed. Dab the sore with a tincture of myrrh on a cotton swab up to 10 times a day. Myrrh directly attacks the virus that causes herpes. You’ll find myrrh in health food stores.
Blend tea tree oil with an equal amount of olive oil, and apply it to the sore two or three times a day. Tea tree oil is a powerful natural antiseptic.
Research conducted in the 1920s showed it had up to 13 times the antiseptic power of carbolic acid, which was then a common germicide.
Eat yogurt that contains live acidophilus bacteria. Some studies have shown that the acidophilus bacteria found in some brands of yogurt actually hinder the growth of the virus.
Use an over-the-counter medication like Abreva. OTCs like this are most effective if you take them as soon as you feel the telltale tingle of an oncoming cold sore. The medication contains docosanol, which works by shielding healthy cells from those that have been infected by the virus. If taken immediately, the medication can shorten healing time by a day or so.
Bolster Your Defenses
During an outbreak, take one 300-milligram capsule of echinacea four times daily. Studies have shown that the herb can boost your immune system’s ability to fight off the virus.
Take 1,000 milligrams of the immune-boosting flavonoid (plant pigment) quercetin each day in divided doses. Research published in the Journal of Medical Virology has shown that this supplement can speed the healing of cold-sore blisters. It’s available in drugstores or health food stores.
Don’t Crack Up
After the sore has crusted over, coat it with some petroleum jelly to prevent it from cracking and bleeding. When you do this, however, make sure you don’t transmit the virus to the stuff in the jar. Instead of using your finger, apply the petroleum jelly with a cotton swab. Use a fresh swab every time.