Anyone who has ever suffered from a cold sore would agree that they are a terrible nuisance. Also known as fever blisters, these common, unsightly outbreaks on the lip area are one of the most uncomfortable and annoying infections. Luckily, I have a few tips and tricks up my sleeve on how reduce their severity and duration, or prevent them from coming altogether.
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus type-1 (HSV-1) that lies inactive in nerve cells until one of many triggers cause it to become active again (HSV-1 is not to be confused with HSV-2, which is sexually transmitted). Triggers include:
stress and anxiety
compromised immune system
excessive sun exposure
trauma to affected area
The Best Natural Cold Sore Remedies
Stages of a Cold Sore
The beginning of a cold sore involves a prickling or tingling sensation, followed by redness and the development of a blister after approximately 24 hours. Swelling often accompanies the first stage of the blister. This is the most itchy, uncomfortable and often painful stage of a cold sore outbreak that lasts about 1-2 days. The final stage is the development of a scab at which point swelling is reduced and the infection is tolerable. This often lasts for about 4-5 days before the scab falls off and the skin heals over, with the total duration of about a week or so.
There are a number of natural remedies available for cold sore infections. Here are my essentials for getting rid of cold sores as quick as possible.
Eating foods rich in lysine, such as fish, poultry, legumes and many other vegetables, helps to fight off the cold sore virus. Many people, including myself, find lysine makes a big difference in the duration and severity of cold sore outbreaks. Lysine can also be taken as a supplement and is my preference when it comes to wanting higher, more therapeutic amounts. Most lysine supplements contain 500mg per capsule, but be sure to speak to your natural healthcare practitioner for the appropriate dose.
Lysine can also be used topically by opening a capsule and mixing together the powder with water. There are also many lysine-based ointments available in health food stores.
I remember the first time I took Vitamin C with lysine together for a cold sore I once had a couple years ago. I never before recovered so freaking fast!
Vitamin C is a whole bunch of amazing things, especially for cold sores. It’s anti-viral, anti-bacterial, antiseptic, an anti-inflammatory, and a potent antioxidant. I can’t recommend a Vitamin C supplement enough for a cold sore!
Oil of Oregano
Oil of Oregano is one of those must-haves as it has a whole array of first aid uses. It is extremely antibacterial and antiviral and helps to ward off infection. Apply a drop or two directly onto the area.
Echinacea is an antimicrobial herb that helps to stimulate the immune system and is a classic choice for helping to rid the body of bacterial and viral infections. Echinacea can be taken internally as a tincture, a tea, or in capsule form.
Arnica is a homeopathic remedy used for injuries, inflammation, bruising and pain. Arnica is a great option for relieving any discomfort that may accompany a cold sore.
Vitamin E Oil:
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that has many benefits for helping skin to heal and repair. Vitamin E oil is a gentle option to help soothe and moisturize the skin around cold sores as it can become very dry. Take a cotton swab and apply where needed.
Stress levels and immune function play an enormous role in the development, duration, and severity of cold sore outbreaks. If I’m particularly stressed or anxious for a prolonged period of time, I tend to be more prone to getting a cold sore.
Support your body during times of stress with magnesium or herbs such as ashwagandha and rhodiola. These herbs are adaptogenic, meaning they help our body manage the effects of stress. Support your immune system with things like vitamin C, zinc, and reducing or eliminating dairy and refined sugar. Instead, increase the amount of fermented foods in your diet—such as sauerkraut or kombucha—for some beneficial bacteria.
I hope these tips help! I’m confident they will.
Let me know – what do you do to overcome cold sores naturally?