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5 Ways to Treat Cold Sores More Quickly

The cold sore is a painful blister that’s caused by the herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1). These sores develop around the mouth and tend to cause a significant amount of embarrassment and anxiety. They usually don’t last for more than a couple weeks, but there are certain methods you can use to treat them quicker.

Woman embarrassed by her cold sore

What’s the best way to treat cold sores?

No.1) Use Over-the-Counter Ointments

It’s no surprise that there are plenty of over-the-counter ointments available for cold sores. Not only will these ointments help sooth the pain, but it will also protect it from environmental irritants (like the sun). This should help the cold sore go away faster. Popular ointments include Carmex and Orajel.

Our Recommendations: If you are going to use an over-the-counter ointment, be sure to reapply it about 5 times a day.

You can also use a variety of other ointments to treat cold sores, including:

  • Petroleum jelly – provides a protective barrier against the elements
  • Rubbing alcohol – will dry out the blister
  • Sunscreen – protect the cold sore from sun exposure
  • Styptic pencil – can reduce redness and appearance of cold sores
  • Eye drops – can help reduce redness

No. 2) Visit Your Doctor

Make sure that you review your cold sore history with your doctor. If you suffer from more severe blisters, then you may need prescription medication to manage the symptoms. Your doctor will ask you several questions in order to determine how severe your cold sores can get, such as:

  • How painful do your blisters get?
  • When did you get your first cold sore?
  • How frequently do you have outbreaks?

Clinical studies have shown that certain medications can trigger cold sore outbreaks. For this reason, we recommend that you discuss the medications you’re currently taking with your doctor. Be sure to make a comprehensive list before your consultation.

No. 3) Make Use of Natural Cold Sore Remedies

There are a variety of natural remedies that people have been using to treat cold sores for years. Here are some we recommend:

  • Tea tree oil – This natural oil can help treat blisters with just a few drops. Apply the tea tree oil in the same way you would with an over-the-counter ointment– apply several times over the course of the day.
  • Ice cubes – Take an ice cube and hold it directly against the cold sore for a few minutes. You’ll want to do this 2-3 times over the course of the day to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Vanilla extract – A few drops of real vanilla extract can also be used to treat cold sores. Just pour some of it on a cotton ball and apply it gently to the blister for a minute– 4 times a day.
  • Tea – It may sound strange, but applying a tea bag directly to a cold sore can help. Green tea is rich in antioxidants and nutrients can spark the healing process. Steep the bag for a few minutes, allow to cool and apply it directly to your cold sore for several minutes.
  • Lysine tablets – These are used to reduce the length of outbreaks and can be bought at the grocery store. You can take 1-3 grams of lysine per day.

Woman discovers a cold sore near her mouth

No. 4) Take Steps to Ease Your Discomfort

The pain caused by cold sores can lead to other related issues such as frequent headaches. Luckily, there are a number of things that you can do to ease this level of discomfort:

  • Apply a cold or warm compress – A warm bottle of water or bag of ice can help soothe your pain in under a half hour.
  • Topical anesthetics – Creams containing lidocaine or benzocaine can provide immediate (but temporary) pain relief.
  • Pain relievers – Aspirin, ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) not only will treat a headache but can also reduce the pain around your mouth.

No. 5) Reduce Your Risk of Future Outbreaks

In addition to treating cold sores when they appear, you should be taking steps to help prevent future outbreaks. It doesn’t really matter what time of the year it is, making these lifestyle adjustments can lead to significantly fewer cold sore outbreaks over time:

  • Avoid foods that can cause cold sores, such as:
  • Acidic foods like citrus fruits and tomatoes
  • Foods that are high in sodium
  • Get more vitamins and nutrients by eating more fruits and veggies that are cold sore-friendly.
  • Take steps to manage stress in your life, as stressful times can easily produce an outbreak.
  • Improve your sleeping habits to ensure you’re getting at least 7 hours a night.
  • Drink plenty of water in order to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day.

These lifestyle adjustments will all help to keep your immune system stronger and reduce your risk of cold sore outbreak. We’d also like you to know that if you haven’t found success with any of these treatments, you could qualify for a cold sore clinical trial at our clinic.

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