How to Get Rid of a Cold Sore in 24 Hours
Cold sores are also commonly called fever blisters. Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). When there is an outbreak of a cold sore, it is a result of the virus multiplying in the body. In between outbreaks, the virus remains dormant in the nerve cells in the body, so it is not ever entirely cured. It is also not uncommon for people to be infected with the virus, but never have an outbreak occur. They also do not have any other symptoms which result from the virus. While it is not entirely certain why some people have outbreaks and others do not, there is some speculation that it might be a result of certain genetic makeup being more prone to responding with outbreaks to the presence of the virus in their bodies.
Known the Difference
Many people confuse canker sores with cold sores. It is important to know what the difference is between the two, in order to be able to properly treat them. Canker sores form inside of the mouth. They are not contagious, and are not caused by the HSV-1 virus. Cold sores form on the outside of the mouth and usually form a blister before they burst open and begin to crust over. Before a cold sore forms, the area may become red, itchy, and painful. There is no similar symptoms when a canker sore forms inside of the mouth. Once you know how to identify a cold sore, you can begin to treat the symptoms to get relief, as well as helping the outbreak to clear up quickly.
Ease the Pain
One of the most annoying parts of of a cold sore is the pain that it can cause. It may make it difficult to eat or talk. There are a number of over the counter medications which are intended to help reduce the pain associated with cold sores. These medications usually only temporarily relieve the pain, and do not bring about complete relief. Other options to relieve pain is to use cold or warm compresses to apply to the area to ease the pain. The easiest way to use a compress is to take a clean face washcloth and get it damp with cold water or warm water to then hold it onto the area. It is important to make sure you wash your hands before and after using a compress to help keep the infection from spreading. Equally important is the need to make sure you immediately put your compress into the dirty laundry so you do not spread the virus to another person.
There are a number of over the counter creams which claim to heal cold sores. Many of these creams are actually only intended to ease the pain of the cold sore. Currently, the only over the counter medication that is an antiviral medication intended to treat cold sores is Abreva. There are also a number of prescription medications you can obtain from your physician, like Zovirax and Denavir, which are also antiviral medications. All three of these medications work best when they are used at the first symptom of the outbreak. If you are prone to getting cold sores, keeping the medication on hand is important to help the outbreak to clear up as quickly as possible.
There are currently no over the counter medications that help treat cold sores. There are however a number of antiviral medications which can be taken at the first signs of an outbreak. Because they need to be taken right away, some doctors provide patients with a prescription to keep on hand in case there is an outbreak. This is ideal, but if not an option, the only way to get these medications and have them work effectively, is to see the doctor the same day you notice symptoms.
Home Remedies for Treating Cold Sores
There are a number of times people get a cold sore, and do not realize it until a day after the first signs appear. As a result, they are not ideal candidates for the use of antiviral medications to treat the sore. However, home remedies are options for people no matter what stage of outbreak the cold sore may be in, and can usually be used in conjunction with medications recommended by a doctor to treat the cold sore. Many of these remedies are common items which you may already have in your bathroom or in your kitchen cupboards. Others require the use of essential oils, which you may not already have on hand, and will be discussed in a later section. The first home remedy is to create a paste out of water and cornstarch. Apply the past to the cold sore, and allow it to dry. It should help to relieve the itching feeling. It can also help to absorb anything which may flow out of the blister once it has burst. Another option is to apply hydrogen peroxide to the area with a cotton ball or cotton swab. A third option is to rub a fresh clove of garlic on the area. It has natural healing properties and will clear up the sore. Lastly, cool milk can be applied to the sore with a cotton ball or cotton swabs every couple of hours. It not only soothes the skin, but it also has healing properties.
Using Essential Oils and Extracts to Treat Cold Sores
There are a number of different essential oils and extracts which can be used to treat a number of skin ailments. Some oils may be things which you already have on hand. One example is pure vanilla extract. In order for it to be effective though it needs to be real and not imitation extract. Simply apply it to a cotton ball and dab it on the area of the blister. Another item already common to your pantry may include coconut oil. This oil is a solid at room temperature, but will melt when it comes into contact with your skin. Simply dab a little bit of the oil on the sore and the antimicrobial properties will help to kill the virus and speed up the healing process. It will also help to soothe any itching or soreness the area may have. Less common essential oils which are beneficial are the use of tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil. Both can be applied directly to the sore a couple times a day, and again before bed to speed up the healing process. They both can help to kill the virus, and tea tree oil can help to dry up the sore overnight.
Cold Sores are Contagious
Because cold sores are a result of the HSV-1, they are contagious. From the time the skin begins to become sore, itchy, and red, the virus is active in the body and you are contagious. It is not until after the sore has healed completely, the skin is no longer contagious to other people. However, because the virus remains in the body, a person can still pass on the HSV-1 virus to another person in their saliva by kissing or drinking after one another. It may not be possible to prevent the spread of the virus entirely to other people, but by not sharing glasses or sharing a toothbrush is one way the virus can be prevented from being spread to another person.
Triggers that Cause Outbreaks
For many people, there are a number of things which may cause an outbreak to occur. By paying attention to your body, it may be possible to know what your triggers are and to avoid them or be prepared for an outbreak before it occurs. Some common triggers for people can be stress. By reducing stress in your life, it may be possible to also reduce the number of outbreaks a person experiences. Another common trigger is hormonal changes. This may be why some women get them during their period. Prolonged sun exposure or a fever may also result in an outbreak to occur. This is one reason why these sores have been commonly called cold sores and fever blisters.
When to Visit the Doctor
While it is not necessary to visit a doctor every time you get a cold sore, if this is your first cold sore, it may be beneficial to see the doctor. Since cold sores are known to occur repeatedly in people, having a prescription on hand can help to speed up the healing process since they need to be take at the first sign of an outbreak. If you do not want to take these prescription medications, the home remedies are usually sufficient to treat the sore. But if you find the cold sores are not improving and are spreading further around the mouth and lips, or if you suspect it may have been spread to other areas of the body, you should immediately consult with your doctor for additional treatment and to rule out other issues.