Tis the season for cold sores… those nasty little blisters that some of us know all too well. Also called fever blisters, these outbreaks can certainly interfere with your daily life.
Cold sores are caused by the extremely common herpes simplex 1 virus, and usually spring up around the nose, lips and chin. They can be triggered by stress, illness, lack of sleep, sun exposure, hormonal changes or facial trauma, among other things, and are highly contagious.
Although cold sores often clear up after about a week, nature offers a variety of remedies which may help ease the pain and create conditions for the sores to clear up faster. The following are just a few of these:
The enzymes found in garlic can help reduce the swelling of your cold sore, as well as cut down its healing time. Simply apply crushed, fresh garlic, leave on for about 15 minutes, and rinse. Repeat three times a day. Warning: it may sting a little!
One of the polyphenol antioxidants contained in green tea is called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which a Georgia Health Sciences University study isolated and found to be effective in healing cold sores, and possibly preventing future flare-ups.
To get the most of this compound from its natural source, drink freshly brewed, organic green tea throughout the day, and apply a tea bag directly to the sore as a compress.
Officially known as Melissa officinalis, lemon balm is an herb related to peppermint that is traditionally used for stress relief. If stress tends to trigger your cold sores, drinking lemon balm tea may help. If you apply strongly-brewed tea to the cold sore directly, it can help to soothe the inflammation and help sores to heal faster.
Lemon balm also has antiviral properties that may help keep the infection from spreading. You may also choose to use the essential oil form.
Tea tree oil and raw honey also have antiviral properties, providing soothing and healing effects on cold sores. When using tea tree oil, be sure to dilute it with three parts water before applying, as it is very potent.
Also make sure that you keep affected areas clean. Do not use the towels or washcloths that you use to dry your cold sores on the rest of your face. Icing the area every few hours can also help keep swelling down.
If your cold sores do not go away within two weeks, or if they become progressively worse, see a health professional to make sure you do not have a more serious infection.
-The Alternative Daily