Sep 5, 2008
Make sure you have cold sores. A cold sore is the same as a fever blister, but it is not the same as a canker sore. Canker sores are mouth ulcers that occur inside the mouth. While cold sores may on occasion develop inside the mouth, they are usually smaller than canker sores, and they start as blisters. Canker sores are not contagious, and they are not caused by a virus, so treatment differs from that for cold sores. Check with your doctor, who can determine which problem you have either by looking at it or performing a test.
Recognize the signs of an impending outbreak. Before you can actually see a cold sore, you will probably be able to feel a slight tingling or burning somewhere around your mouth where the cold sore will erupt. You may also be able to feel a small bump or hardness in the skin at this point. The earlier you can detect an outbreak, the quicker you can take action to hasten your recovery.
Quarantine your sore at the first sign of an outbreak. The herpes simplex virus is highly contagious, so avoid kissing or other mouth-to-body activities at any time during an outbreak. Also avoid sharing utensils, cups, or straws with other people, and wash dishes and utensils thoroughly with disinfectant soap. Wash your hands frequently, and try to avoid touching the sore. If you touch the cold sore, you can then spread it to other people or to other places on your own body, such as the eyes and genitals. Gently washing the blisters with soap and water may also help to prevent the spread of the outbreak.
Your toothbrush can keep reinfecting you, so throw it away after an outbreak.
Take an antiviral medication. A few prescription antiviral medications, such as Penciclovir, Acyclovir, and Famciclovir, have been approved for treatment of herpes simplex outbreaks. These medications do not cure herpes simplex, and they have not been shown to be effective in preventing outbreaks, but they can speed up healing and reduce the severity of an outbreak. They are generally most effective if you start taking them as soon as you notice the first signs of an impending outbreak. If you have very frequent outbreaks, your doctor may prescribe these medications to be taken daily, even in the absence of symptoms, to suppress future outbreaks. Suppression therapy may be effective for some people, but clinical studies have not shown widespread success. You may also have success with topical ointments, such as Abreva and Denavir. Both are designed to treat the viral infection topically and promote speedy healing. Abreva is non-prescription and is available over-the-counter.
Treat the fever. As the name fever blisters suggests, cold sores are sometimes accompanied by a fever, particularly in younger children. If fever is present, use fever-reducing medications such as acetaminophen, and monitor the fever carefully. Antiviral medications may also reduce fever.
Ease the pain. Over-the-counter cold sore creams may help to ease the pain of cold sores, as may painkillers such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen. It's important to note, since cold sores often affect young children, that aspirin should generally not be given to young children because of the risk of Reye's syndrome, a rare, but potentially fatal disorder.
* Icing the sore can be an effective temporary pain reliever. Use an ice pack, rather than touching ice directly to the sore, and keep moving the ice around. Do not ice for more than 10-15 minutes at a time. Applying heat to the sore may also provide relief.
* A room-temperature compress of whole milk may ease the pain and speed healing. Be sure to wash the area after applying the compress.
Be patient. The outbreak should go away in 2 weeks or less, and until then, there's not much you can do. Avoid squeezing or picking at the sores, as this will only slow their healing.
Seek medical advice if you have a compromised immune system or if you experience a particularly severe outbreak, a fever that won't go down, an outbreak lasting more than 2 weeks, or irritation of the eyes. Some outbreaks can be serious. People with already-weakened immune systems are at particular risk of long-term complications or even death from a herpes outbreak. Herpes infections in the eyes are one of the leading causes of blindness in many countries, so be very careful not to spread the infection to your eyes, and if you have any irritation in the eyes, see your doctor at once.
* Try to catch it as early as possible and start taking B-Complex vitamins. A dose of 1000mg three times a day for a few days and sometimes you won't even get an outbreak.
* Herpes simplex outbreaks, and hence cold sore outbreaks, are believed to be triggered by certain things in certain people. It has been determined that wearing sunscreen on the lips and other vulnerable areas may help prevent outbreaks in people whose outbreaks are triggered by sun exposure. It is also believed that stress may cause outbreaks in some people, and so practicing relaxation techniques to reduce stress levels may ward off outbreaks for these people. A weakened immune system probably allows outbreaks in general, so it's a good idea to try to stay as healthy as possible by eating right, exercising, and avoiding allergens, drugs, and excessive alcohol consumption.
* Some research has connected herpes outbreaks with the amino acid arginine, which is found in foods such as chocolate, cola, peas, cereals, peanuts, gelatin, cashews and beer. The evidence isn't conclusive at this point, but if you have frequent outbreaks, you may want to try limiting your consumption of these foods and eliminating consumption during outbreaks.
* It is possible that the amino acid L-Lysine (an essential amino acid for healthy tissue in the mouth) may help prevent outbreaks. If you experience frequent outbreaks you may want to try taking a lysine supplement daily. While the scientific tests are still inconclusive, it does seem to work for some people. Look for the label L-Lysine on the shelves, and it's usually available in a 1000mg tablet. Often such supplements also contain zinc, also thought to assist.
* An internet search for cold sores or fever blisters will turn up a multitude of home remedies, from vitamin supplements to poison ivy! As with any condition, naturopathic remedies may indeed be effective for some people, but they can also occasionally be dangerous. Use your common sense, and consult your doctor when in doubt.
* A mud-mask product is excellent for an oozing cold sore. Apply it to the sore at night to help dry it up. It will heal faster as well. To hide it during the day, use a lip liner brush (which you disinfect afterwards) and mix a bit of lipstick with the mud. It will cover your sore quite easily and keep it from oozing during the day, often one of the most unpleasant aspects of having a cold sore.
* If the sore erupts on your lips, apply lib balm several times a day. If applied from the start of the outbreak this can stop the blister from forming into a scab and therefore reduce the length of the outbreak. Be careful - if you press too hard on the sore you can break it and cause it to scab.
* A cheap solution to easing the pain is the use of oral anesthetics like Chloraseptic. It can be applied several times a day with the use of a Q-tip.
* Some people apply gel antiperspirant to the cold sore at night to dry and speed healing. The antiperspirant component dries the sore, the deodorant component is anti-bacterial, and even though it won't kill the herpes-1 virus, it will prevent secondary infection.
* Some find that the prescription medicine Valtrex is the best way to get rid of a cold sore; see a doctor if you would like to pursue this treatment direction.
* As soon as you feel or suspect the onset of an outbreak, immediately apply an ice cube to the affected area until it begins to be painful, then warm the area up. Repeat this on and off for several minutes at a time and you may prevent the outbreak entirely. It's important to do this before the virii cause too much tissue damage.
* As an alternative to the ice cube, as soon as you feel the burning, tingling sensation that tells you of an impending outbreak, dip a Q-tip in rubbing alcohol and apply it until the tingling spot feels "hot". Doing this 2-3 times per day or more can subdue or even prevent the breakout. (If the sore is directly on the lips, be very cautious not to get the alcohol in your mouth--it tastes awful.) In addition, do everything you can to avoid irritating or touching the spot to prevent worsening the breakout, slowing the healing process, or spreading the virus.
* A recent study (sorry, no reference) showed that the application of honey to the lesions was more effective that using cold sore ointments/medications.
* Some have found that using nail polish remover is very effective. See this blog for this and many other first hand cures.
* When you begin to feel the tingle apply Tea Tree Oil with a q-tip (don't re-use the q-tips!) to the area. It is a natural antiseptic and dries it up quite well without being too unkind to your lips, like nail polish remover/alcohol.
* Vitamins are important! When you even feel an outbreak coming on take a multivitamin and eat tons of vitamin-rich foods that day. Lysine helps a bunch, 2-3,000 mg every day for about a week if you feel it coming on.
* TO COVER COLD-SORES and not having to lose out on life outside your room! Check the pharmacy for a product called 'Liquid Bandage.' I believe they have several brands.. you can try one called 'New Skin- Liquid Bandage.' Apply 1 layer to completely cover the cold sore and allow this to dry completely - a second layer may be applied for full coverage. What this does is cover the sore and provide a smooth surface for the aplication of lip color or lip-stick, and also protects the sore from further infection (it has antiseptic properties!). When competely dry, using a lip brush (this can be sterilized by soaking in boiling water and bleach) - apply a dark enough shade of lipstick that will cover the cold sore, and voila, you can go out-doors again. I suggest using a lip brush instead of applying the lipstick directly to the lip, because this will help to prevent spreading the sore to other parts of your mouth.. just sterilize the brush after use. NB: Just ensure the cold sore is completely covered with the liquid bandage before applying lip-color because if not, the lip-color/lipstick could irritate/worsen the sore. Oh, and make sure to use a dark enough shade of lipstick to hide the sore. To remove - just wash off CAREFULLY and make sure to dry the cold-sore as much as possible. After removal, I suggest using alcohol (this will burn, but it's worth it.. believe me)to speed up the healing process then use neosporin gel to prevent scarring and help with healing also. So go ahead..enjoy life with or without a cold-sore.. Happy healing everyone!
* PS: Make sure to wash hands after touching cold-sore and sterilize all lip brushes or other applicators.
* This article is a general guide only and is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice. Herpes simplex can be a very serious condition, and it's important to consult with your doctor about treatment options.
* Herpes simplex type 1 causes most cases of cold sores, but herpes simplex type 2 (genital herpes) can also cause them on occasion.
* An outbreak may remain contagious even after all the sores are healed. Occasionally, cases of herpes are transmitted without any signs of an outbreak being present.
* Using alcohol or nail polish remover on a sore that has already broken the surface, or even on one that hasn't, can cause (sometimes really unsightly)scars on or around your mouth because they are quite harsh substances.
Posted by Jane at Friday, September 05, 2008 |