Cold sores are a common, yet uncomfortable and often unsightly problem for many. Steps should be taken as soon as you feel a cold sore beginning to form, in order to prevent one from occurring or reducing the duration and discomfort of a sore that has already developed. Luckily, there are many fast ways to prevent or clear up a cold sore.
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus. Once a person has been infected with this virus, it lives dormant in the body for life, showing up periodically in the form of blisters on or near the mouth. Cold sores can be brought on by illness, sun exposure or even stress. Symptoms usually include a feeling of itching or tingling preceding the sore, followed by the blister which may be itchy and painful. Cold sores usually last seven to 10 days.
There are several over-the-counter (OTC) medications you can use to help relieve cold sores fast if you cannot afford the often expensive prescription medications from your doctor. While most over-the-counter medications only relieve cold sore symptoms such as pain and itching, there are a few that can also help provide a sterile environment to prevent the development of sores and promote healing. There are many different types to choose from, including inhibitory medicines such as Lipreve and Viroxyn, which hasten recovery and relieve discomfort; docosanol-based products inhibit the effects of the virus, in turn limiting the severity and duration of cold sores; numbing agents such as phenol, zinc, lysine, tannic acid and benzocaine all have antiviral properties that inhibit cold sores; moisturizers such as lip balms protect the affected area and soften scabs that may form to minimize the possibility of cracking and bleeding. These products most often contain pertolatum and allantoin and can be applied directly to the sore.
Apply aloe vera gel or rub juice from an aloe plant on the affected area when tingling or itching signals the beginning of a cold sore. If used at the first sign of a cold sore, this remedy is especially effective and will also aid in the healing process later on. Mix a few drops of Grapefruit seed extract with aloe or another liquid and dab it on the sore. Grapefruit seed extract can be bought at your local health food store. Use it sparingly, as grapefruit seed extract is quite strong. Make a paste of equal parts cornstarch and water and apply to the cold sore to aid in healing. Make sure to take plenty of vitamin C and zinc. Both will greatly reduce the duration of cold sores. Apply vitamin E directly to the sore to provide pain relief. Steep a tea bag in boiling water for a few minutes, cool and apply to the sore. This will heal sores within four to five days.