Find out how to get rid of cold sores quickly by knowing the causes, symptoms and treatments
Cold sores are also referred to as “fever blisters” or “oral herpes” as the virus that is responsible for them is Herpes Simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). They typically appear on the lip and look like tiny clusters of fluid filled blisters, however they are not always isolated in this region. This skin condition is very common, between 65 to 90 percent of people have been infected at one time in their lives, typically during teen years. However, the most susceptible to the virus are newborns and young children due to their immune system not being as strong.
What causes cold sores?
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus. The first cold sores usually occur in childhood. The virus infects through the moist 'inner' skin that lines the mouth. It is commonly passed on by skin contact such as kisses from a family member who has a cold sore. After the first cold sore infection, the herpes simplex virus settles in a nearby nerve sheath and remains there for the rest of your life. For most of the time, the virus lies dormant (inactive) and causes no symptoms.
However, in some people the virus becomes 'active' from time to time. When activated, the virus multiplies and travels down the nerve sheath to cause cold sore blisters around the mouth. Some people have cold sores often, others only now and then. It is not clear what causes the dormant herpes virus to become active.
What triggers a cold sore?
Cold sores may occur during feverish illnesses such as colds, coughs, and flu.
Cold sores are common around the time of monthly periods.
Cold sores can be triggered by a weaker immune system or just being 'run down'.
Strong, direct sunlight may trigger cold sores in some people.
What are the symptoms of cold sores?
The signs of a cold sore may include a tingle or itch before the blisters appear, usually around your lips or nose. This can last several hours, or up to a day or so. After the tingle, one or more blisters appear which are usually sore. They may weep and take several days to scab. The scab slowly disappears over a week or so leaving no scar. Some virus will remain dormant in the nerve sheath ready to cause another cold sore sometime in the future. The stages of a cold sore are:
- You have a tingling, burning, or itching feeling.
- About 12 to 24 hours later, blisters form. The area becomes red, swollen, and painful.
- The blisters break open, and fluid comes out. This usually lasts 2 or 3 days.
- A scab forms on the sore. It might crack or bleed.
- The scab falls off and the cold sore heals.
How to treat cold sores
Find out how to get rid of cold sores quickly with the best ways to treat cold sores:
Natural cold sore treatments
An ingredient in liquorice called glycyrrhizic acid has shown to turn off the herpes simplex virus which is responsible for cold sores. Skin Shop’s LipQ Liquorice lip balm is a super smooth and natural lip treatment for people who suffer from cold sores.
Medical cold sore treatments
Pain can be eased by painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. A pharmacist can advise a soothing cream or gel. Antiviral medication creams. You can buy these at pharmacies or get them on prescription. These do not kill the virus, but prevent the virus from multiplying. They have little effect on existing blisters, but may prevent them from getting worse. So, if you use an antiviral cream as soon as symptoms start then the cold sore may not last as long, and may be less severe. There is debate as to how well these creams work. Some people say that they help a lot to limit symptoms. Others feel they make little difference.
Lifestyle changes you can make to get rid of cold sores:
1. Wear SPF on the lips
The most common trauma to your lips is excessive sun exposure. The lips suffer from the effects of the sun in the same way as the rest of your body. Even a small amount of sunlight can be a sufficient trigger in some people. So avoiding too much sunlight or wearing an SPF on your lips can be a good precautionary move if you find that sunlight triggers your cold sores.
2. Change your diet
Other traumas can include certain types of food such as spicy foods or certain types of fruits which can sting the lips with the fruit acids in their juice. Although fruits and especially the naturally occuring vitamin C inside of them are excellent for a robust immune system which also plays an important role in reducing outbreaks. A healthy immune system will help to reduce the activation of the herpes simplex virus.
3. Maintain a healthy immune system
People often find they have an outbreak when they are run down, stressed or suffering an emotional upset. All these causes are linked to the immune system. So good sleep, moderate exercise and a healthy diet can for some people be enough to reduce cold sores outbreaks dramatically.
Shop the LipQ range for cold sores on our website
If you suffer from cold sores and want to find out more information regarding our products, check out our LipQ range on our website here.