Cold sores, which are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1), can be painful and embarrassing. Initially, the virus can result in flu-like symptoms ranging from a headache and body aches to a scratchy, sore throat and fever. Even though you may seem to get better after this first outbreak, the virus itself will continue lurking in your body in a dormant state.
Anytime you experience triggers such as stress or hormonal changes later in your life, it can cause the virus to flare up again. Unfortunately, this can result in the appearance of cold sores. The good news is that cold sores can be treated using natural remedies. Although none of these remedies will get rid of them immediately, they will help shorten the amount of time that they stick around. We asked experts for some advice and here’s what they gave us.
- Minimize flare-ups with lysine.
Lysine, a naturally occurring amino acid, has been shown to minimize the likelihood of flare-ups. Lysine is available in a couple of different forms. You can either take it as an oral supplement or you can apply it to your skin as a cream. Even if these supplements don’t prevent cold sore outbreaks entirely, they can help make them less severe.
- Speed up healing with lemon balm.
A type of mint known as lemon balm has been shown to increase the speed at which cold sores heal. It also may help minimize the likelihood of experiencing outbreaks in the future. Choosing a lip balm that contains lemon balm is an easy way to treat cold sores. You can also use lemon balm to make an infusion to treat the affected area.
- Minimizing stress can reduce outbreaks.
Stress is one of the primary triggers for cold sores. By finding ways to eliminate as much stress as possible from your life, you could reduce the number of outbreaks that you get on an annual basis. Typically, your best bet is to turn to natural stress reduction techniques such as exercising or meditating. Alternatively, you can also talk to your doctor about taking medication that may help you cope better with your day-to-day life.
- Reduce pain using ice.
One way to make cold sores less painful is by applying ice to them. Granted, this technique won’t make the cold sores go away faster. It can, however, make them less painful to deal with.
- Reduce symptoms with zinc oxide.
Some studies have shown zinc oxide to be effective at treating cold sores. As long as you apply it quickly after you notice an outbreak starting to occur, it can help reduce the amount of time that the cold sores stick around.
- Soothe the skin with aloe vera.
Aloe vera can be purchased from the drugstore in gel form or can be extracted naturally from the aloe vera plant. Although not many studies have been done on how effective aloe is at treating cold sores, it has been shown to be effective against genital herpes.
Ultimately, the key to treating cold sores is to keep your life as stress-free as possible. After all, nothing beats preventing outbreaks in the first place.