Catch your cold sore early!
Cold sores can be a frustrating ailment, as the virus that causes them can lay dormant for years and years before some small thing triggers it and causes an outbreak of sores on your lips. For some, these outbreaks come more regularly, which can be equally unpleasant and even embarrassing. What’s worse, they always seem to strike at the most inconvenient times – a few days before a wedding, job interview, date or birthday party!
The best way to get rid of a cold sore quickly is to catch it as early as possible. The ideal time to start taking precautions is at the very first stage – when you start feeling a slight tingling or itching on your lip.
However, if your cold sore has already broken out, the following tips will still be useful in helping it to heal faster, reduce pain and protect it from further infection.
Honey is famous for its antibacterial and healing qualities, and these are intensified in Manuka honey, making it the perfect way to tackle cold sores. Manuka honey naturally contains disinfecting hydrogen peroxide, as well as a natural antibacterial called methylglyoxal. The higher the UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) of the Manuka honey you buy, the more potent it will be.
Applying Manuka honey to a cold sore provides a protective layer that stops bacteria from entering and making it worse. It might sting a little at first, but it will help to reduce the pain in the long run as it stops the sore from drying out and cracking.
Another bee-related choice is propolis. This thick, sticky resin is created from a combination of bees’ saliva, beeswax and plant sap, and is famous for treating cold sores and other minor wounds. It’s available in our own Bio-Propolis, which can be applied up to 5 times a day for constant protection. Even if you miss the initial tingling stage, it will still help to fight the infection.
St John's Wort oil
An unusual one, but St John’s Wort oil can also be really useful for treating cold sores and is sometimes used to treat genital herpes too. It’s naturally antiviral and is particularly effective on the nerves, which is important for cold sores because HSV travels along nerves cells to the skin where it causes the sore.
L-Lysine, or just Lysine, is an amino acid that the body cannot produce on its own. Over the years it has become a popular treatment for cold sores and is often taken preventatively too. It can be found in creams and ointments, or can be taken in tablet form, which is ideal for long-term use.
Research has not been able to identify exactly why Lysine can help treat cold sores, but some think that it has an effect on the enzyme that activates the virus, while others think that it inhibits the activity of arginine, an amino acid which promotes the growth of HSV.
L-lysine will be available in most local health stores and pharmacies, or you can check out the range available from our friends at Jan de Vries.
Vitamin C & E
Vitamin C is famous for its immune-boosting properties, so taking extra vitamin C when you have a cold sore can help your immune system to get the virus back under control. Vitamin E is great for the skin and can help to soothe the irritation of the cold sore and prevent any scarring.
Some vitamin C rich foods can be acidic – such as oranges and citrus fruits – so you may want to try a vitamin C tablet instead, such as our own Nature-C, which is packed full of easy-to-absorb vitamin C.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil has fantastic antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties, making it perfect for keeping your cold sore clean as well as speeding up the healing process. Simply dilute with olive oil and apply to the sore using a cotton bud.
Don’t touch it!
Don’t touch your cold sore, pick at it or scratch it! Touching your cold sore can transfer bacteria from your hands into the open skin, which can cause it to become infected and take longer to heal. If you have to touch it to apply cream or ointment, make sure to wash your hands before and immediately after.
Ideally, any creams or remedies should be applied using a cotton bud where possible.
Do you have any other tips for healing cold sores? Share them in the comments below!