Cold sores are the common name for an outbreak of the highly contagious Herpes Simplex Virus, HSV-1. They’re also called fever blisters, oral herpes simplex and herpes labialis. Cold sores are so common that it’s estimated up to 90% of the American population are infected with the virus however only 40% will ever have a visible outbreak. 2 3 4 Cold sores appear as small watery sores on the lips, nose, and sometimes on other regions of the face. These painful sores last about ten days to two weeks as the blisters open and then form a yellow scab as new skin grows below. 4 Cold sores and canker sores are entirely different. Cold sores appear on the outside of the mouth. Canker sores are inside, caused by a different virus and are not contagious.4
There are two different herpes causes. Cold sores causes come from the oral virus HSV-1. It’s not to be confused with a different strain, HSV-2, which is genital herpes. Both forms are highly contagious and can be passed from one person to another by physical contact such as kissing, oral sex, sharing common toiletries, drinking glasses and even by finger touch. 1 2 3 It’s known that HSV-1 and HSV-2 are interchangeable and either strain can appear on the face or genitals, depending on the method of contact. Both viruses present the same symptoms and react much the same way. 1 2 There is no cure for HSV-1 or 2. Once infected the virus may lie dormant for years only to resurface at unexpected times. It’s thought that a low immune system, weather changes, menstrual periods, fatigue, stress and other viral infections contribute to outbreaks. 1 3 4
People with first-time outbreaks of cold sores symptoms will notice a small sore that enlarges to the size of a dime within several days. The sore is itchy and burning, then blisters, releases water and finally crusts. This process is very painful to the touch and lasts for several weeks. 1 2 Other cold sores symptoms are: 1 2 3 4
Although there is no cure for HSV-1, there are some effective cold sore natural remedies to speed healing and reduce discomfort from the sores.
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Tea tree oil is a natural remedy that can help treat is safe to apply on skin conditions. Applying tea tree oil to cold sores can help soothe and reduce inflammation. Apply several drops directly to infection area outside and around the mouth. Apply several times daily as needed.
Garlic has natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial health benefits which can help treat cold sores. Apply raw crushed garlic directly to affected area and hold for 1 minute. Remove and reapply another crushed clove of garlic for another minute. Repeat throughout the day as needed.
L-lysine is an amino acid that can help to treat cold sore breakouts. L-lysine is available as a supplement in capsule form to take daily. Or it is available as a topical cream to apply directly to the affected areas.
Salt is a natural anti-bacterial remedy that can help to treat the herpes virus that causes cold sores. Apply table salt directly to affected area to remove impurities and dry out the infection. Apply as often as needed to help soothe symptoms.
Hydrogen peroxide is a natural remedy that provides antiseptic, antibacterial and antiviral health benefits. Hydrogen peroxide can help to dry out cold sores and treat the herpes virus. Soak a cotton ball in hydrogen peroxide and apply directly to cold sores. Leave on for several minutes and repeat as needed.