It’s impossible to cure cold sores, and they like to come back, usually to the exact same spot time after time. Fortunately, there are things you can do to make a cold sore less noticeable and less painful, without a trip to the doctor’s office or spending a lot of money.
- Fight pain with aspirin or Tylenol.
- Avoid toast, crackers, chips, and orange juice.
- Ice is nice.
- Cover up your cold sore.
- Try licorice.
- Got milk?
- Think zinc.
- Change your toothbrush (and make sure you don’t share).
- Wash your hands frequently, especially after you have touched your face.
- Prevent cold sores by covering up in the sun.
These anti-inflammatories will also reduce redness and swelling.
Dry foods sometimes have sharp edges or salt that can irritate a cold sore, as can citrus juice. They can prevent the scabbing that your lip needs to heal over.
Relieve the pain of a cold sore by applying ice or by drinking smoothies and slushies (careful about the calories). Popsicles made with citrus juice, however, may make a cold sore worse.
If you feel you have to conceal a cold sore with make up before an important meeting, remember to take the makeup off as soon as possible. Any cosmetic that includes alcohol, fragrances, essential oils, or perfumes will dry the skin and make cold sore blister worse. A dab of petroleum jelly on a sore lip, however, keeps it from cracking and drying out and helps it heal faster.
The herb licorice (the real thing, not licorice candy) is a power inflammation fighter. But don’t take it for more than 2 weeks at a time and don’t take it if you have high blood pressure.
After your cold sore has begun to scab over, soaking a clean cotton ball in fresh milk and holding to the sore (then throwing the cotton ball away where it won’t infect anybody else) will help strong skin emerge from under the sore.
Zinc lozenges, the same kind you might take for a cold, slow down the action of the virus-if you take them at the first tingle or itch in your lip.
Sometimes a toothbrush can harbor the herpes simplex 1 virus that causes the cold sore. You keep infecting yourself and starting the healing process over from square one. Simply getting a new toothbrush will at least keep you from reinfecting yourself with bacteria that can grow in a cold sore blister.
Although it takes a little extra effort to infect the rest of your body with the cold sores body, such as touching an open cut or bloodshot eyes, it’s possible. Washing your hands, especially after you touch your face, reduces the risk of transmitting the virus to even more places on your body. One of the most common secondary infection sites is the soft tissue under a fingernail. Washing hands with warm, soapy water prevents this problem.
The UV-A rays of sunlight activate the virus that causes cold sores. Wearing a hat, using sunblock, and making regular use of lip balm can stop the cold sore before it starts.