Cold sores are rarely serious, but they are very painful. They occur inside of the mouth or on the lips, and are similar to blisters or canker sores. They are very contagious and are caused by the herpes simplex virus. Cold sores appear as white or red dots or bumps in the mouth and they usually tingle or burn in the days leading up to a full-blown outbrak. There is no cure for cold sores, but there cold sore remedies that reduce the severity and frequency of occurrence.
The pain from a cold sore typically lasts about a week. Natural cold sore remedies ease the intensity of the overall pain and shorten the duration of an outbreak.
Essential oils with antiviral properties are an effective way to deal with cold sores. Lemon balm is believed to reduce the length of a cold sore outbreak by up to 50 percent. Applying lemon balm to the lips and other areas affected by sores decreases the frequency of outbreaks.
Peppermint oil has been shown to combat certain strains of the herpes virus. Direct contact with peppermint oil can be dangerous and the pure form of the oil is dangerous if eaten, so use it carefully when using it as a cold sore remedy. Peppermint tea is a safe, pleasant way to utilize peppermint oil as a remedy.
Lysine is an amino acid and is considered one of the most effective natural cold sore remedies. It is found in food and various supplements such as red meat, dairy, wheat germ, fish, and brewers years. Researchers believe lysine plays a role in how much arginine (another amino acid) is absorbed into the intestines. Arginine is believed to be a trigger and an irritant for cold sores. Foods such as nuts and chocolate are high in arginine and should be avoided just before and during a cold sore outbreak. If you prefer not to include red meat, dairy or fish in your diet, lysine is available in supplement and ointment form.
Lysine is not the only chemical in food that helps alleviate the discomfort of a cold sore. Resveratrol is a compound found in red grapes and it is believed by researchers to suppress cold sore development. The chemical is used to make a high-potency cream that is a natural alternative for the prescription medications sometimes given for herpes simplex infections.
Other foods and herbal supplements containing chemicals that suppress cold sore development include Reishi mushrooms, self-heal, echinacea, black currant, rhubarb-sage cream, and propolis. Bees collect propolis from certain plants and use it to build and protect their hives.
Oral Health and Cold Sore Remedies
Each time you develop a cold sore, you should replace your toothbrush. This prevents the virus from re-infecting your mouth with remnants left on the brush. You might also want to store your brush outside of the bathroom. The moisture in the room helps the virus live longer, increasing the chance of infection. Your goal should be to keep your toothbrush as dry and clean as possible.
Sometimes preventing a cold sore is as simple as maintaining good health. Get plenty of rest and take supplements that boost your immune system. Keep stress under control because it can trigger an outbreak. Exercise on a regular basis and eat a balanced diet. Finally, recognize what triggers your outbreaks and do what you can to reduce your risk.