Have you often groaned in pain over an outbreak of cold sores? They do seem to crop up at the most inconvenient times – like when you have that party to go to! Also known as fever blisters, these pesky things can appear on your lips, cheeks or genitals even. A virus named Herpes simplex (type 1) causes these, which are very infectious, and they can last for about two to three weeks! The virus remains dormant inside the body; hence the sores can recur time and again.
Cold sores can be triggered by
- Cold weather
- Sunlight or sunburn
- Fever (stomach flu etc.)
- Irritation caused by some treatment (e.g. at the dentist’s)
Symptoms of fever blisters include
- Sensation of unusual tingling, numbness, burning or pain around the area before the sores appear
- Red liquid-filled blisters, often clustered together
- Ooze clear fluid, but crust over after a few days
- Pain and irritation before crusting
- Lymph nodes may swell up
- Swelling of lips
15 best home remedies for fever blisters
You must remember that there is no cure for cold sores; you can however reduce the duration for which an outbreak lasts by utilizing any of the following homemade remedies to get rid of fever blisters. These remedies are known to be effective in four or five days, while face creams and gels can take a long time.
This is the simplest method to get instant relief from the tingly feeling around the affected area, reducing the redness and swelling of the sores. Get some ice cubes in a soft cloth and hold it over the sores for 10 to 15 minutes, repeating the process every 2 or 3 hours. You can also apply some lemon balm ointment or petroleum jelly to soothe the area in between icing sessions. For best results start icing the area when you feel the symptoms of fever blisters coming on, so as to control the severity of the outbreak. Prevention is always better than cure!
2. Tea bag
Warm up a tea bag by soaking it in boiling water. Apply on the affected area multiple times a day for about a week. Tea has antioxidants and vitamins, and tannic acid which is anti-viral in nature.
Make a paste with a tablespoon of licorice powder or extract with half teaspoon water or two teaspoons petroleum jelly and apply it gently on the fever blisters with cotton. Leave it on for several hours or even overnight and continue doing this process for a few days till the sores heal. You can supplement this remedy by drinking licorice tea. Licorice reduces the swelling and redness and makes it heal faster because of glycyrhizic acid which is anti-viral and anti-inflammatory. Licorice is known effective herbal remedy to get rid of fever blisters.
4. Tea tree oil
Tea tree essential oil is known to have anti-viral properties and is used widely to heal a lot of skin-related conditions. Remember essential oils should never be used directly on to the skin – you must dilute it first because they are very concentrated. Mix tea tree oil and water in a 1:3 ratio and apply on the affected are with cotton. Do this treatment three times every day for about a week, by which time the sores should be gone.
5. Aloe vera gel
This wonderful cooling gel can be used on your cold sores to reduce the inflammation. It is loaded with anti-bacterial properties which help heal the cold sores. Simply apply some aloe vera gel on the affected area for instant relief. You can do this as many times as you want in a day, and continue for several days till it heals. If you have an aloe vera plant, you can apply its gels directly from the leaf. Cut one of the thick leaves and apply it.
6. Witch hazel
Witch hazel had been used for years by the Native Americans for its medicinal properties – it heals skin conditions especially well. Soak some cotton in witch hazel and apply on the sores. Do this twice daily for several days.
Soak some cotton in cold whole milk and apply it on the cold sores. To boost your immune system, drink a glass of warm milk with a pinch of turmeric powder in it. Milk contains antibodies called immune-globulins which fight the herpes virus, and an anti-viral fat called monocaprin. It also contains l-lysine which fights against an outbreak-causing amino acid, arginine.
Soak a cotton ball in pure vanilla extract and hold it over the sores. Apply this 3 or 4 times daily. Since the extract is alcohol-based, it is thought that the alcohol reduces the chances of the virus thriving in the affected area.
9. Hydrogen peroxide
This disinfectant helps clear the affected area of the virus and also dries up the area to prevent further spreading or worsening of the condition. Sure it will sting, but it will help heal the cold sores faster. Soak some cotton in 3% hydrogen peroxide solution and apply directly on the blisters. Rinse it after a few minutes and pat dry. You can also make a mixture with a teaspoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide and two powdered aspirins. Apply it and leave it for 2-3 minutes and wash off. Do not do this treatment for more than two days, and only once a day.
10. Cornstarch paste
Viruses thrive in acidic environments and cornstarch, being alkaline in nature, balances the pH of the affected area, thus helping the healing process. Make a smooth mixture of a tablespoon of cornstarch and a teaspoon of distilled water and apply on the fever blisters. Leave it on overnight and wash off in the morning.
Make a mixture of one cup yoghurt, an egg and a tablespoon of honey and apply it on the blisters. Keep it on for about 30 minutes and rinse it off. You can apply this face mask once daily. Yoghurt contains lysine which fights the viruses while honey has been long known to have anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Crush 2 or 3 cloves of garlic (which has anti-viral enzymes) and apply the paste on the cold sores. Leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes and wash off with water. This may sting a little!
13. Peppermint oil
Dip some cotton first in water and then in peppermint oil (this is done to dilute the concentrated oil) and apply on the affected area that has been previously washed. Peppermint oil is said to destroy viruses that are outside the body cells.
Drink Echinacea tea every day to strengthen your immune system, which renders you less susceptible to the herpes virus.
Apply some white toothpaste or some toothpaste mixed with salt on the affected area. Toothpaste contains a whole host of anti-microbial agents like hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and menthol that helps heal the sores fast.
Cold sores can be prevented and controlled with these precautions
- Avoid close contact with a person having the blisters
- Avoid using toothbrushes, lip balm, handkerchief and other personal items of the infected person
- Be careful in terms of treatments of cuts or bruises when suffering from fever.