Saturday, August 4, 2007

Say Goodbye to Cold Sores with a Simple Herbal Remedy

span style="font-weight:bold;">Oh, not again, another cold sore breakout!

Unfortunately, when a bump or sore appears on the lip, it’s enough to make you feel like a social leper. Although a cold sore is not the end of the world and goes away on its own, it is also a highly contagious blister with an unmistakable appearance. What causes this condition? It is none other than a virus whose name will send shivers up and down your back.

What are Cold Sores?

A cold sore is a painful blister filled with fluid that makes an appearance on or around the lips. It is the herpes simplex virus infection that causes this undesirable visual, and is sometimes referred to as oral herpes, fever blisters, labial herpes, herpes labialis, and herpes febrilis. One of the most distinguishing characteristics associated with a cold sore is the high level of contagiousness they possess. Skin-to skin contact passes these little devils from one person to another. While the greatest chances of passing on the blisters occur when they are dry and crusted over, they may also pass on after they have healed [1]

Cold Sore vs Canker Sore

Another condition with similar symptoms to the cold sore is a canker sore, which both exhibit blister-like sores about the mouth. Canker sores keep to the inside of the mouth, often developing on the tongue or inside the cheeks, while cold sores stick to the lips. The only time a cold sore finds its way to the inside of the mouth is during the onset of an eruption.

Causes of Cold Sores

There are different kinds of herpes virus strands that cause cold sores to form. Often, it is the herpes simplex type 1 virus that is most responsible for this occurrence, although type 2 has been known to cause cold sores as well. The virus can be passed from person-to-person through an active sore. The condition is so contagious that sharing spoons, forks, razors and towels may also spread the infection. If you are prone to cold sores, a variety of triggers, such as fever, menstruation, stress and excessive sun exposure could lead to a reoccurrence [1].


Oral herpes is quite common and is often diagnosed through visual symptoms. Anyone from your family doctor to a dermatologist can diagnose the onset of cold sores. Physicians may analyze your symptoms by running lab tests. Viral cultures are sometimes taken, where a cotton swab is wiped across an open sore. The results of this test take anywhere from 2-10 days for review.

Natural Remedies for Cold Sores

Although cold sores typically heal on their own without treatment, there are many natural remedies to consider, which ease the symptoms and speed up healing time. While vitamins (like vitamin b12), mineral supplements, and changes to your diet can help treat cold sores, there are plenty of natural and homeopathic remedies, such as:

a) Witch Hazel: When applying witch hazel to cold sores, relief can be achieved.

b) Lemon Balm: This remedy helps to reduce the symptoms of cold sores, as well as speed up healing. Internally, drinking up to 5 cups per day of a lemon balm infusion will do the trick. Externally, combine 3 teaspoons of dried leaves or 1.5 tablespoons of fresh lemon balm to one cup of water and infuse for 10 minutes. Next, strain the mixture and place on blisters about 3-5 times a day.

c) Aloe Vera: Rubbing aloe vera gel or oil on blisters may ease the pain and increase healing time.

d) Echinacea: Taking echinacea tablets or capsules, as well as creating a tincture can treat cold sores.

e) St John’s Wort: Drinking up to one cup per day of an infusion of this herb will help.

f) Garlic: Eating 1-2 cloves of garlic can treat the virus.

g) Ginger: Eating 1-2 slices of fresh ginger per day will treat cold sores.

Cold Sore Prevention

Since there isn’t a cure or prevention approach for cold sores, individuals can reduce their chances of developing these oral irritations through a series of lifestyle changes. Below you will find ways to prevent the spread of or safeguard against cold sores:

a) Avoid Blister Contact: Since the virus passes easily from one person to another, coming into contact with bodily secretions is highly discouraged. This means refraining from kissing people with visible blisters and avoiding other skin contact.

b) Avoid Sharing: This is the one case where your mother won’t frown upon not sharing your things. Keep in mind that the virus easily attaches itself to utensils, towels and other items.

c) Keep Hands Clean: It is important to wash your hands before touching another person if you or they have a cold sore. Also, touching body parts during an active blister moment can pass the virus to other areas, such as the eyes and genitals.

d) Avoid Triggers: Keep in mind that cold and flu, sleep deprivation, and prolonged sun exposure has been known to bring about cold sores. Applying sunblock on the face and lips before entering the sun will help prevent the formation of cold sores. This is true for both the winter and summer season.


While cold sores are often confined to forming on the lips, they can actually appear on other parts of the body. On occasion, a cold sore has been known to take shape on the nostrils, chin, or fingers. In rare cases, they may even form on the gums or roof of the mouth.

The scary part about a cold sore is that the signs and symptoms usually do not show immediately after exposure to the herpes simplex virus. It could take up to 20 days to actually experience any symptoms, and often continues for about 7 to 10 days. Below you will find a few cold sore signs to be on the lookout for:

a) Blisters : The main symptom of cold sores is the formation of a blister, which is small, painful, and filled with fluid. The skin surrounding the blister often appears red, raised, and is also painful to the touch.

b) Prodrome: Pain or a tingling sensation often occurs 1-2 days before the visual sight of a blister.

c) Oozing: As the blisters continue to take shape, they may break and ooze fluid.

d) Crust: After blisters ooze, a yellow crust forms.

e) Discolored Skin: After the crusty part of a blister falls off, the skin may appear pinkish underneath, which heals without scarring.

f) Disrupted Swallowing: Sometimes, individuals may experience problems swallowing food or liquids.

g) Lip Irritation: Itching and swelling of the lips may occur.

h) Drooling: This symptom is sometimes seen among small children.

i) Additional Symptoms: Headaches, irritability, fever, and swollen lymph nodes may also occur.