Cold sores are basically tiny lesions filled with fluid and which occur in patches either on the mouth, lips or even at times at the genitals depending on the cause. Once the blisters are broken, crust like skin will form which with time heals on its own and eventually pulls off from the skin naturally. Cold blisters will often heal even without any special kind of treatment or medication within a number of days not exceeding two weeks.
Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is the major cause of cold sores and the virus occurs in two types. Herpes type 1 and type 2. Both type 1 and two can lead to the development of cold sores in the genitals and mouth. The types of cold sores that occur on the genitals are simply known as the genital herpes while those on the mouth are usually referred to as herpes labialis. An infected person can transmit the herpes virus causing cold sores through;
- Coming into contact with infected fluids like saliva.
- Sharing of personal effects like razors and needles. T he virus can also be transmitted through sharing of utensils with an infected person.
- The herpes virus can also be transmitted from one person to another through oral sex.
Symptoms of Cold Sores
Cold sores are usually characterized by factors that include;
- Itching and tingling. This occurs between 1-2 days prior to the occurrence of the blisters. At this stage, you may experience burning, tingling or itching sensations especially on the mouth area and lips.
- Formation of blisters which usually occurs about o 1 day after the sensation. The blisters which are often fluid filled occur on the outward edge of the lips but sometimes can also occur on the cheeks or nose.
- Swollen glands especially around the neck and at times other parts of the body.
- Sore throat.
- Pain especially around the lips and mouth area.
- Drooling. This often occurs in kids before the cold sores become fully blown.
- Crusting occurs when the fluid filled blisters break and ooze the fluid. Afterwards, a crust like surface is left on the skin which eventually heals and naturally peels off the skin.
Now, it is important to note that, a good number of cold sores symptoms are similar to symptoms of various other diseases and medical conditions like common cold. Again, often the symptoms vary from one individual to another depending both on the age and whether it is a first time or recurrence. Thirdly, a good number of people with cold sores rarely develop symptoms but even then they remain contagious and thus can pass the virus from one person to the other. Cold sore recurrence can be triggered by
- Overexposure to sunlight.
- Fatigue and fever.
While at it, it is also important to note that a weakened immune system may put you at more risk of contracting the virus that causes cold sores. In addition, various commercially produced medications, drugs and even treatments may enhance cold sore complications. Diseases like HIV/AIDS, eczema and even cancer chemotherapy can enhance chances of getting infected with cold sores.
Cold Sore Home Remedies
More than often, cold sores exhibit mild symptoms which usually heal on their own within a number of days of occurrence. Even then, cold sores can be a nuisance and in such cases, there are numerous natural remedies that can be used to relieve the symptoms. Some of the natural remedies for cold sores may include. Remember, you should always consult with your physician in order to get a proper diagnosis and before trying to incorporate these home remedies yourself!
- Lemon balm extract- A variety of people who have used lemon balm extract in fighting cold sores have been able to experience greater changes within just a few days. To promote the healing process, apply lemon balm extract to the affected area between two to four times daily. This is able to relieve the symptoms of the infection within just two days.
- Astragalus- This herb has been used several times in the stimulation of the immune system. Besides, it is also effective in inhibiting the reproduction of the HSV1 that is a major cause of cold sores. It can also be combined with other herbs for the treatment.
- Echinacea- This is another herbal extract that can be used to effectively eliminate the symptoms of cold sores. In using Echinacea, the patient should apply the extract to the affected areas carefully in order to get relief from the condition quickly. The extract can be very effective in promoting a quick healing of the cold sores.
- Warm tea bags- These can also be used in inhibiting the symptoms of cold sores. The infected person should apply warm tea bags over the affected areas several times for a period of between 20 to 30munites. This can work in providing relief within just a few days.
- Aloe Vera- Known to most people, this herb is also a great remedy that can be used in the treatment of Cold sores. While using Aloe Vera, it important to note that the parts that should be used are the leaves. By rubbing the juice of Aloe onto the sore, Aloe is able to fight the symptoms of the condition within just a short period of use.
- Witch Hazel- The herb Witch Hazel, contains astringent which is also very effective in addressing the the signs and symptoms of cold sores.
- Apple cider vinegar- Apple cider vinegar can be effectively used to prevent and relieve symptoms of cold sores. To use this, dab the remedy directly on the blistered areas either on the lips or mouth area and let it settle for a few seconds. You can repeat this number of times in a day. Adding some lemon juice will help enhance the effectiveness.
- Hydrogen peroxide- Use a clean cotton bud to regularly clean the blistered area with hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide will enhance the oxygenation of the affected area thus enhancing quick recovery. Alternatively, you can carefully squeeze all the fluid from the blisters then apply the hydrogen peroxide onto the surface that remains non-stop until there are no bubbles forming on the surface. In case, blisters reform, repeat the process again and again until the surface remains flat. This ensures faster healing.
- Ear wax for cold sores– Ear wax can also effectively help relieve symptoms of cold sores. On this, source your own ear wax, then directly on the sores, apply the wax. Rub in the wax onto the sores and let it sit there as long as it is necessary. Preferably, do this overnight. In case the blisters are broken, gentle do the rubbing in to prevent further agitating the skin around.
- Hot and Cold Compress– To alleviate, you can try alternating hot and cold compresses on the blisters until you get the results desired.
- Vitamins– Other home remedies to try out include vitamin supplements (especially vitamin C), dietary changes, application of calcium silicate and salt, using ether, application of household bleach, a combination of peroxide and aspirin, and the use of nail polish removers among others.
Apart from these, there are also medications that can be used to provide faster relieve to cold sores including penciclovir, acyclovir, valaclovir and famclovir. In severe cold sore cases, drugs may be intravenously administered for quick and effective recovery.
Diet for Cold Sores
A weakened immune system gives room to the development and occurrence of various medical conditions and diseases including cold sores. Therefore, to alter the diseases, proper diet should be used to enhance the functionality of the immune system which in turn will mean better and quick recovery from disease as well as protection against recurrence. Proper dieting is very important to enhance the healing of cold sores.
A diet containing both arginine and lysine is often recommended to enhance faster recovery. Both arginine and lysine are body proteins that are stored in the same body tissues. What this means is that, for arginine to be stored it should be in sufficient amounts to replace lysine and vice versa. Now, the herpes virus that causes cold sores thrives in arginine but does not do so in lysine. What this means is that, high levels of arginine in the body will allow for the wide spread of the herpes virus while high levels of lysine will limit the spread. Therefore the best diet for patients with cold sores would include both arginine and lysine but in varying amounts such that lysine displaces arginine. With lysine in surplus, the herpes virus cannot invade the body cells thus limiting the number of virus being produces and the more suppressed the virus production will be the quicker the healing is expected to be. You can consider temporarily avoiding foods like oats, nuts, chocolate, multivitamins and body building formulas that contain high levels of arginine. Foods like eggs, chicken sprouts, brewer’s yeast, mangoes, papaya, beets, figs and numerous other fruits and vegetables contain good levels of lysine.
Your diet should also include an increase in foods rich in bioflavonoid, zinc and vitamin C. these nutrients are very essential for skin strengthening, protection and nourishing. The nutrients will also be beneficial as such will ensure quick recover from sore throats. Consider increasing your intake of whole grain products, sea foods, rosehips, black tea, leafy vegetables, legumes, lentils, beans and other healthy food products.
Prevention of Cold Sores
Cold sores are contagious and such can be easily spread through coming into contact with infected fluids. Even then, various health practices can help enhance prevention. Some of the ways to enhance prevention include
- Avoid sharing of personal effects like razors and needles and also utensils. In case of infection, separate the utensils and other items used by the infected person from those that are used by other members of the family. In most cases, cold sores are transmitted through coming into contact with contaminated/infected fluid. Therefore, observing basic hygiene can help lower re-infecting others with the virus.
- If infected, it is also possible to prevent the spread of the virus to other parts of the body by avoiding touching (observe high levels of hygiene) especially avoid touching your genitals and eyes as these are the most likely to get easily infected.
- Always maintain personal hygiene by regularly washing your hands with water and soap. This lowers the risk of infecting others especially through contact.
Cold sores are among some of the most common infections that rarely require any special medical attention to heal and often such heal on their own. However, such can be a nuisance and may need some sort of remedies and treatment to alleviate the symptoms. In such cases, it is important to note that there are numerous remedies that can be used to alleviate such symptoms but not all will be effective for you as different people will react differently to the different remedies. Therefore, depending on your needs, look for products that will not only help you get rid of the symptoms but which will help you alleviate the symptoms in as little time as possible.
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