You know the signs. The tingling starts and then the burning. We are not talking about falling in love! Oh no! It’s a cold sore on your lip. Also known as fever blisters, they are uncomfortable and they can really ruin your smile…and you can forget about being kissed! When you feel one coming on, you want to get rid of it ASAP.
Studies tell us that 90% of Americans will suffer from at least one cold sore in their lifetime. Cold sores are painful, unsightly and infectious. Unfortunately, cold sores are a fact of life for many. While those who suffer multiple and chronic outbreaks will need to come in and see Dr. Still, we have found some at-home treatments that may decrease healing time. They may not eliminate cold sores completely, but these methods can make an outbreak much more comfortable and dramatically decrease healing time.
- Pure vanilla extract has anti-inflammatory properties that can aid in the healing of a cold sore. When you feel a cold sore coming on, soak a cotton ball in vanilla extract. Then, hold the cotton ball to the area of concern for two minutes four times a day until the cold sore disappears.
- Wear a lip product with SPF – Direct sunlight can trigger an outbreak of cold sores, so make sure you’re always wearing sunscreen for your skin and lips and keep in it your purse, desk or pocket.
- Use a Topical L-Lysine Product – This is an amino acid that can be taken orally or applied directly to the skin in order to decrease the occurrence, control the severity and accelerate the healing process of cold sores.
- Propolis, also known as synthetic beeswax, is available as a 3% ointment. When applied early and often, it may shorten the duration of the breakout.
- Rhubarb and sage – A cream combining rhubarb and sage may be about as effective as acyclovir (Zovirax) cream.
- Try to reduce stress – If your cold sores are triggered by stress, you might want to try relaxation techniques, such as deep-breathing exercises and meditation.
- Ice the cold sore with an ice pack or ice cube – We know that ice controls pain and inflammation, especially when dealing with sports injuries. However, the age-old technique can also be effective for cold sore relief. The cold works to slow down blood flow to the cold sore area, therefore reducing pain and swelling.
- Replace your toothbrush – Toothbrushes can retain traces of the virus that causes cold sores. This means that if you don’t replace your toothbrush after a cold sore pops up, your current cold sore will likely last longer and you are at risk of more frequent outbreaks in the future. For that reason, Smile Sarasota recommends the Philips Sonicare Ultrasonic Toothbrush thanks to its easy-to-change heads. As an added benefit, the electric toothbrush removes up to two times more plaque than a manual version.
Cold sores generally clear up without treatment in two to four weeks. If yours does not, Dr. Still can recommend several types of prescription antiviral drugs may speed the healing process. These medications include: Acyclovir (Xerese, Zovirax), Valacyclovir (Valtrex), Famciclovir (Famvir) Penciclovir (Denavir). Some of these products are packaged as pills to be swallowed and others are creams to be applied to the sores several times a day. In general, the pills work better than the creams.
If you have any questions about cold sores or any other oral discomfort, call Smile Sarasota and we will always be glad to help! We want your smile to be beautiful and…kissable!
Sources and Credits: Mayo Clinic, Webmd