Tackling cold sores
From the second you feel that familiar tingle on your lips and you know a cold sore is soon to arrive it can put anyone into a bad mood.
It’s a frustrating, painful, and for many people, an embarrassing nuisance.
So if you think a cold sore’s coming, or have a history of them, here are a few tips that may keep them at bay.
Spot The Triggers
The best way to treat cold sores is to prevent them from forming in the first place. Like any illness they come with a set of triggers and making a few changes to you lifestyle can make a huge difference.
You are at you most vulnerable when you have a cold as your immune system is compromised, leaving you exposed. If you do catch a cold make sure you take the correct vitamins and supplements, especially vitamin C, to bolster your defences.
Running yourself down with lack of sleep or stress gives cold sores an opportunity to strike, battling fatigue and maintaining a regular sleeping pattern, while taking naps if needed, will help keep them away.
Lysine is an amino acid that you can find in many cold sore creams and ointments, it is however also found naturally in many foods. Creating a balanced lysine-rich diet including fish, lamb and dairy, or lysine supplements is another simple way of not giving cold sores a chance to form.
Catch Them Early
It’s impossible to prevent every attack but your best bet is to deal with the infection before it fully develops. The early symptoms include:
- Tenderness, itching and a tingling sensation around your lips.
- Sore throat, swollen glands and other cold and flu-like symptoms.
Between 6 to 48 hours after these symptoms are felt the cold sore will form, which will make it harder to treat. Before this happens you can apply ice to your lips hourly as cold sores, irrespective of their name, thrive in heat. Keeping the area cool can heal them before they even surface completely.
There are an abundance of over-the-counter creams, balms and salves that you can try if a cold sore does appear. Many of them will ease the pain and sensitivity; however they do not all promote healing. Some of the more popular treatments include:
- Zovirax is a cream that should be applied five times a day which promotes healing with some reports halving the time it takes for the cold sore to vanish
- Blistex is the only product on the market which contains docosanol, which stops the cold sore from spreading, allowing it time to heal. You may have to discuss with your pharmacist before using this product.
- Taking Ibuprofen will reduce the swelling and redness of the sore but will do very little to heal it any faster. It can alleviate any discomfort and pain and should be taken if it hurts.
If you would prefer not to pay for expensive balms or tablets or would just prefer to try something natural, there are few remedies besides ice and lysine mentioned above that could clear up even the worst outbreak.
- Liquorice contains Glycyrrhizic acid which has strong anti-viral properties and tastes great too.
- Tea tree oil can clear up a cold sore in a matter of days as it is a natural astringent, making it capable of sterilising the area and stopping the infection from spreading.
- Toothpaste is another natural remedy many cold sore sufferers swear by. Dab it on the cold sore area as soon as you feel the tell-tale tingle.
- Light therapy in a form of an electronic cold sore machine can also be very effective. It’s a small, handheld device that claims to heal cold sores more quickly than a cream. If you regularly get cold sores throughout the winter, it may be worth the investment, and can be found in chemists like Booths and Lloyds.
Do you have any tricks to treat cold sores?
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Rachel - Silversurfers Assistant Editor
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