Cold sores / Fever blisters - Home remedy cures.
There are a number of home remedies that can be used to treat, and even help to prevent, cold sores.
Most of them involve applying the remedy directly to the sore (such as ice, honey or a tea bag). However, one approach involves taking oral supplements (lysine).
Keep in mind that while some of the home remedy "cures" listed on this page are supported by scientific evidence, many over-the-counter products, and especially prescription antiviral medications, may be more effective, or at least more convenient (or practical) to use.
A) Home remedy treatments for cold sores.
» Try treating your sore with honey.
A research study (Al-Waili, 2004) tested the application of honey to fever blisters, as opposed to acyclovir cream (a prescription antiviral medication). The study's findings were that the honey treatment performed better ("the mean duration of attacks and pain, occurrence of crusting, and mean healing time with honey treatment were 35%, 39%, 28% and 43% better" than with the acyclovir).
» Apply an ice cube.
The benefit of ice treatment as a cure for fever blisters is thought to be twofold.
- Applying ice (for five to ten minutes each hour) during the Tingle stage of cold sore formation will lower the temperature of the tissues where the lesion is forming. This temperature reduction will have the effect of reducing the area's metabolic rate, which, in turn, will help to stunt the cold sore's development.
- Intermittent application of ice to a cold sore can act as a numbing agent. This can help to alleviate symptoms such as pain, burning or itching.
» Put a tea bag on the area where a cold sore is forming.
Tea contains tannic acid, a compound that's suggested to have antiviral properties and therefore help to stunt the formation of cold sores (as determined by lesion size, Rodu, 1991). Some over-the-counter medications contain tannic acid. (Tanac ®).
Placing a tea bag in the area where the first signs of fever blister formation have appeared may help to minimize the extent to which the sore will form. Position the moistened tea bag (regular black tea, like that used to brew ice tea) on the area where the cold sore is forming for a few minutes every hour.
» Soften scabs with petroleum jelly.
B) Home remedies that can help to prevent cold sore outbreaks.
» L-lysine oral supplements.
[ We've expanded our coverage of this topic: Preventing cold sores with L-lysine supplements. ]
Some research suggests that taking L-lysine oral supplements (lysine is an amino acid) is a cure for cold sores, in the sense that doing so regularly can help to reduce outbreak frequency.
» Other simple home-remedy preventives.
Here are a few simple things that you can do that should help to minimize the number of cold sore outbreaks you experience.
- Since exposure to light (especially ultraviolet light) can trigger cold sores, when outside you should shield your face from the sun with a hat. Also, when outside or when using a tanning bed or booth, apply a lip balm that contains a sun screen having a SPF value of 15 or more.
- Since injury to your lips can trigger cold sores, minimize the potential for lip damage caused by chapping by applying a moisturizing lip balm.
C) Herbal remedies.
The herbal antiseptics Sage and Tea Tree Oil and also the herbal sedative Violet have been suggested as being useful in treating cold sores. (Please remember that herbal compounds must be used appropriately. You should always discuss your plans with your health care professional before initiating any type of treatment.)
Take precaution when treating your cold sores. The herpes virus is contagious!
If you're not careful when you're treating your sores, you can spread the herpes virus to others, or even other parts of your own body.
Remember, each of the stages of cold sore formation and healing must be considered to be contagious. This means that after you have applied any type of treatment you should always properly dispose of any applicator that has come into contact with your sore and wash your hands.