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Cold sores, also called as fever blisters are small painful fluid-filled blisters that appear most frequently on the lips mouth or inside the nose. In rare circumstances like in case of immuno-compromised patients they may also occur inside the mouth. Cold sores are not same as canker sores.

What causes cold sores?
Cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus (HSV). Two types of herpes simplex virus causes cold sores namely HSV-1 and HSV-2. Although in most cases HSV-1 is responsible for cold sore and HSV-2 is responsible for genital herpes, they may both cause cold sore on the lips or mouth.

Once herpes simplex attacks you there is no cure, it stays in your body throughout your life. But the good thing is that after primary infection herpes simplex stays inactive without causing any symptoms or any serious complications and you may live a normal healthy life. It may later reactivate to certain triggering factors like excessive stress or other factors that decrease your immune system. If you are struggling with recurrent herpes and looking for some cold sore home remedies, here we go:

Some home remedies for cold sores

  • Do not pick, pinch, squeeze or bite the blisters.
  • Avoid licking the lips area.
  • Avoid acidic foods or other salty foods if they irritate your skin.
  • Rinse your mouth with available mouthwash or mix one teaspoonful of salt in 500 ml water and rinse, it will help soother cold sore and reduce irritation.
  • If you see yellow pus around the cold sore, it may be due to bacterial infection. Coat the lesion with some antibacterial ointment. If infection persists see your doctor.
  • Wash the lesion area gently with mild soap free liquid cleansers and pat dry with paper towel, but remember to keep the lesion moist afterwards to prevent further drying and fissuring.
  • Avoid sharing day to day applications like razors, toothbrush, and towels.
  • Clean your hands after touching the lesion. Try not to touch your eyes or genitals before washing the hands.
  • Don’t apply reusable applications like lip balms, lipsticks etc directly to the cold sore lesion. Apply with hands or cotton swabs and wash hands after application.
  • If you have pain you may take some analgesics to relive the pain. Do not take analgesics like aspirin or ibuprofen if you have peptic ulcers, gastritis. Aspirin is contraindicated in blood disorder and child below 12 years.
  • Over the counter topical medications like topical analgesics and skin protectants are available which will soothe the skin and relief pain. Apply the products directly to the lesion; do not spread to adjacent skin or non involved areas.
  • If you have difficulty in eating due to cold sores apply above mentioned products before eating. This will ease the pain and facilitate eating.
  • As cold sore are very contagious. Strictly avoid contact with other person during the blister formation periods. If you practice oral sex avoid it during this period.
  • Avoid excessive sunlight to your lips. Always apply broad spectrum sunscreen on your lips and over the area of your face where cold sore develops. Ultra violet radiation also is thought as one of the aggravating factor for cold sore.
  • Cold sore may persist for 10-14 days there is no cure for it, all available topical or medications will not help cure lesion but may shorten the duration of lesion if used early.
  • It is estimated that almost 80%-90% of the world population will have cold core at any time during their lifetime. Remember, herpes virus can be transmitted to another person even when a person is asymptomatic and no blisters are present.
  • If you have diabetes or recurrent herpes infection, above mentioned home remedies for cold sore treatment may not work for you all the time, you may need oral prescription drugs. Talk to your dermatologist for prescription products.
  • Avoid stress and other factors that you think has link to your recurrent cold sores.

1.Paterson J, Kwong M: Recurrent herpes labialis. Assessment and non-prescription treatment. GlaxoSmithKline Continuing Education in Pharmacy CCCEP#268-0405 1-21, 2005


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