Cold sores (or fever blisters as some people call them) are unsightly, and can be very painful. They make the lips very sensitive to heat and cold, and when they are erupting in weepy sores they can have an unpleasant odor. People commonly use both over the counter medications and home remedies for cold sores.
The name “cold sore” is actually a misnomer, because it’s not cold weather or “having a cold” that causes them. They are caused by the Herpes Simplex virus which has been contracted by about 2 out of every 3 people in the U.S. It’s passed on by contact, very often because well meaning family members kiss children. Once a person has this virus it lays dormant, hiding inside nerve cells, and there is no complete cure.
So, while a bout of cold sores will usually last around a week, even after they recede they’re quite certain to return.
Do not despair, however. The home remedies for cold sores can be very effective both in shortening the time of each bout and for reducing the severity of the outbreaks. If administered at the first sign of symptoms, cold sores can be healed up before they progress to a full eruption.
2 Powerful Home Remedies for Cold Sores
The most common home remedy for cold sores is usually camphor. Camphor used to be produced by distilling the bark and wood of the camphor tree. Today it is more often chemically manufactured from turpentine oil. A popular camphor-based application is Nyal Cold Sore Cream (available at pharmacies).
The other very effective remedy is lysine. Lysine is an amino acid (the building block of protein). It can be used in two different forms to treat cold sores: (a) you can purchase lysine-based cold sore creams that you apply directly to the affected area, or (b) you can buy lysine in tablet form to be taken orally. This second method, in our experience, is the very best treatment of all. (Although there’s nothing to stop you doing both, and even adding in some of the other remedies listed in this article.)
Other Home Remedies for Cold Sores:
- Alternate freezing them (by holding ice cubes on them), and then placing a warm soaked tea bag on them. Instead of a tea bag, some people prefer a poultice made of green tea leaves.
- The gel extracted from aloe vera plants is effective. It’s best if you can grow your own plant; thankfully they are hardy plants, even if you’re not much of a gardener. At the first sign of a cold sore outbreak, break a stem, squeeze out the fresh gel, and apply it directly to the area.
- A way to prevent outbreaks altogether is to include foods in your regular diet that are rich in zinc content. Oysters are a very good source, although eating a lot of them may not be desired (or cheap!) Zinc is also found in beans, whole grains, poultry, and dairy products.
- Lemon balm extract is another natural remedy that many people have claimed to work.
- Finally, and perhaps most drastically, some people swear by a remedy of applying fingernail polish remover to cold sores. The active ingredient required is acetone, so you need to make sure that your brand of polish remover contains it. Admittedly, this remedy may be quite harsh on the tender skin around the mouth. Also, fingernail polish remover is toxic, so care must be taken not to ingest it.
Have you tried any of these home remedies for cold sores, or know of another? Leave a comment below and share it with others.