Cold sores are painful blisters that appear on the surface of the skin around the mouth or lips. About 67 percent of adults worldwide test positive for the virus that causes cold sores, and while most of these people will never have symptoms, some may experience recurrent seizures. Fortunately, there are several treatments available to help reduce the duration of cold sores and prevent future outbreaks. Medications can accelerate healing and reduce recurrence.
Some research has shown that lemon balm extract can also help cold sores get better. This strong-smelling oil helps cold sores heal more quickly, and its antiviral properties may help reduce redness, discoloration and swelling associated with a blister, or protect against future infections. Products that contain docosanol or benzyl alcohol may also help reduce the duration of cold sores. Lysine is available as an oral supplement and a cream that, according to a 1987 study, may be useful in reducing the duration of asthma attacks.
Ice can ease the discomfort and inflammation of cold sores, and applying a cold compress directly to sores for temporary relief. Sunscreen with at least SPF 30 can protect your lips while cold sores heal, and using it daily on your lips can reduce future exacerbations. In addition to medications, there are several home remedies and natural treatments that can provide comfort during the 7 to 10 days it takes for a cold sore to heal.
Lemon balmcan be used as a lip balm with at least 1 percent lemon balm, or as an infusion for a compress.
Ice can provide relief from discomfort and inflammation, while vitamin C has been shown to inactivate the herpes simplex virus. Reducing stress is also important for preventing cold sores, as stress can cause the herpes virus to come out of its dormant state. If you suffer from frequent outbreaks or experience some of the serious side effects of having a cold sore, your doctor may consider prescribing antiviral medications. Unfortunately, there is no cure for cold sores, but with proper treatment and prevention methods you can reduce their duration and prevent future outbreaks.
If you have an active cold sore, it's important to avoid close contact with others, such as kissing, as it is contagious from the time you first feel tingling until your cold sores have completely healed.