Cold Sore Remedies: What You Need To Know

Time saver 3 min read

Whether you call them fever blisters or cold sores, they are a nuisance. First that telltale tingle, then the itchy and burning blister—not to mention the slight embarrassment and misconceptions about it! But not to worry. There are quick, painless treatment options readily available to you to tackle the tingle as soon as possible.

Why do I have a cold sore?

First of all, cold sores are incredibly common. The World Health Organization estimated in 2016, that 3.7 billion people under the age of 50 have been exposed to the virus that causes cold sores—herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). That’s roughly two-thirds of the population! Most HSV-1 infections are acquired during childhood through oral-to-oral contact. Once you’ve been exposed to the virus, it stays inactive in your body until something triggers another outbreak or flare-up.

But why are you having a cold sore flare-up now?

Well, the fact of the matter is, you won’t always know what triggered your outbreak, but, it could be caused by stress, sun exposure, cold temperatures or wind, another illness, like a cold, or hormone changes.

Treatment for cold sores

First things to do when you have a cold sore

Cold sores are contagious from that first tingle until they’re fully healed—so up to 15 days. Cold sores are spread through direct or indirect contact. The key to all treatment is to start early—ideally within the first 72 hours, if not the first 24 hours—and avoid touching, scrubbing, picking, or popping the cold sore to prevent spreading the virus and prolonging recovery.  Remember to also wash your hands often, and refrain from kissing, or sharing beverages, lip products, or eating utensils until you’ve healed.

Over-the-counter treatment for cold sores

If you’ve experienced cold sores before and don’t have them frequently, an over-the-counter treatment might be the right choice for you. There are many topical options you can pick up at your local drugstore.

Topical antivirals

Topical antiviral treatments like docosanol (Abreva) can help reduce recovery time and cut down on symptoms while you’re healing.

Numbing creams

Gels and creams are available to help cut down on the discomfort, such as benzocaine (Zilactin). Though these creams won’t reduce recovery time, they’ll make your time recovering more comfortable.

Protective products

While you’re recovering, you might want to protect your cold sore. Medicated or non-medicated patches, such as hydrocolloid patches, can be used to keep the skin covered and protected from potential irritants (think spicy or acidic foods). Additionally, healing ointments like Vaseline or Aquaphor can provide a protective barrier as well to keep the skin hydrated and to promote recovery.

Prescriptions for cold sores

Many people wonder if their cold sore can be treated with antibiotics. The simple answer is no – antibiotics won’t clear up your cold sore virus. If you’re looking for the quickest recovery possible, prescription antiviral treatments are the way to go. As soon as you recognize that dreaded tingle, you can get treatment quickly and effectively with our 24/7 online clinic.

Just answer a few questions about your symptoms and medical history, upload a few pictures, and our certified nurse practitioners will provide you with a diagnosis, a customized treatment plan, and free follow-up care. If a prescription is needed, it’ll get sent directly to the pharmacy of your choice.

Don’t wait until you can get in to see your doctor in person. The quicker you get treatment, the less painful your flare-up will be.

Home remedies for cold sores

Virtuwell recommends these home remedies to ease discomfort:

  • Cold compress
  • Lip balm containing lemon balm
  • Tylenol or Advil for pain relief
  • Petroleum jelly or Vaseline

There is very limited research to suggest that these home remedies could help treat more than just the discomfort. As always, make sure to do a patch test first in an unaffected area to ensure you don’t worsen your symptoms.

The best treatment is prevention

The best way to fend off triggering another flare-up is prevention. The top trigger for flare-ups is stress—yet another reason why self-care is so important! Make sure to have plenty of stress management tools in your back pocket to keep cold sores at bay.

Cold sores can also be triggered by other sicknesses or dips in your immune system. Wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face, and support your immunity by getting ample rest and drinking plenty of water.

Prevention also means protecting your skin. Wearing an SPF on your lips and face daily—even in the winter—will help prevent cold sores, and wearing a protective lip balm in the colder, drier months will prevent chapped lips and potential for cold sores.

No need to tough it out!

Cold sores are bothersome at best, and incredibly uncomfortable at worst.
Either way, Virtuwell is here to help you take care of yourself and get on the road to recovery. Learn more about cold sores, or start your visit today.

According to the CDC, antibiotic resistance is one of the most urgent threats to the public’s health. Although waiting can sometimes make you feel powerless against an annoying virus, there are many things that can be done to relieve symptoms almost immediately.

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