Sometimes known as “fever blisters”, cold sores are dreaded, painful, and with you for life. Individual cold sores may come and go, but the virus remains.
While there are ways to treat them pharmaceutically, many people come to our naturopathic clinic in Toronto looking for treatments for their skin conditions, including cold sores.
Let’s take a closer look at cold sores today.
What Is A Cold Sore?
A cold sore is a blister that is usually found around the mouth and lips, or sometimes inside the cheeks, on the tongue or on the roof of the mouth.
They can be painful, and cause a burning, itching sensation that can start even a couple of days before an outbreak.
Once the outbreak starts, the blister will start to grow, and will then break.
Once it has broken, it crusts over, heals and the scab falls off to reveal fresh, pink skin.
Be warned that cold sores are extremely contagious, and you should wash your hands frequently, and every time you touch your face.
As well, don’t share lip balms, cutlery, drinks, or kisses while you’re having an outbreak.
What Causes Cold Sores?
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (usually type-1, but occasionally type-2), and more than two-thirds of the worldwide population are carriers, even if they haven’t ever had an outbreak.
Outbreaks are usually caused by a compromised immune system, such as when you’re tired or have a cold.
You catch cold sores from another infected person.
Even though they don’t need to have an active outbreak to infect you, it’s MUCH more likely if they do.
Although it’s a slightly different strain, you should also be careful with genital herpes, as it can also transfer to the mouth with contact.
Natural Solutions For Cold Sores
As you may already know, there’s no cure for herpes, so if you have been diagnosed with it, you’ve got it for life.
However, with natural, over-the-counter, and prescription treatments, you’re able to both reduce the time of the outbreak and even avoid outbreaks altogether.
The key to controlling cold sores is antivirals, and there are several natural antivirals that may help.
1. Licorice Root
See if you can find licorice root-infused lip balm, as sufferers of cold sores have reported good results with this.
Licorice root helps to weaken the cold sore virus as it lies dormant in your skin, which means that it can be effective in preventing outbreaks from occurring.
The active ingredient is glycyrrhizic acid (GA), which targets the genes that maintain the dormant virus.
By interfering with the production of certain proteins, it helps starve the infected cells of their food source.
Other components that carry both antiviral and antimicrobial properties include: liquiritigenin, lichochalcone A, licochalcone E, and glabridin.
2. Eat A Lysine-Rich Diet
Lysine is an important compound for calcium absorption and collagen formation.
Find lysine in the following foods:
chicken, turkey, beef, pork
parmesan cheese, eggs, yogurt
Spirulina and soybeans
How lysine helps with cold sores: it’s been observed to interfere with arginine absorption in the intestine, which is an amino acid that feeds the herpes simplex virus.
3. Witch Hazel
Witch hazel, or hamamelis, is usually only mentioned as a topical home remedy that can help reduce some of the side effects of a cold sore, including itching, redness and pain that’s associated with an outbreak.
However, according to this study, “antiviral activity of hamamelis extracts has so far been demonstrated […] against [the] herpes simplex virus.”
To use witch hazel on your cold sores safely, be sure to consult a naturopathic doctor.
4. Lavender Oil
Lavender oil is helpful for treating skin irritations and bruises.
If you’re using it for the first time, dilute it in a carrier oil, such as coconut or MCT oil; if there’s no reaction, then you can continue to use it undiluted for best effect.
Lavender oil doesn’t prevent the virus, but it does seem to help reduce the pain associated with cold sores.
Apply one or two drops of oil directly to the sore to help decrease pain and inflammation.
Be sure to wash your hands after treatment.
5. Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil has been used for centuries as a remedy for different conditions, and it is also well-known for its help treating cold sores.
As an anti-inflammatory, it can help the cold sore healing process by speeding it up.
One warning: eucalyptus is a known allergen, so be sure to test yourself before applying to an open sore.
As well, you should always dilute eucalyptus oil in a carrier oil before applying.
Book An Appointment At Annex Naturopathic
Start out your new year by investing in your health – call now to book an appointment with Annex Naturopathic.
Meeting with a naturopath can help you better understand the herpes simplex virus and learn what your options are when it comes to treatment.
Take advantage of the natural solutions and remedies for cold sores by investigating the naturopathic treatments available to you.