Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are a common viral infection that causes small, fluid-filled blisters that typically develop around the lips. These are usually gathered together in patches and form a scab when they break. Cold sores usually last several days, and they can cause discomfort and pain.
Who can get cold sores?
Anyone can get cold sores. This means that both children and adults can contract the virus that causes the condition. According to research, people are typically first exposed to the virus when they are kids but the virus can also be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy. For example, children can acquire the virus when they are kissed by someone with a cold sore or by using the same cutlery or sharing a towel with someone with the condition.
On the other hand, adults can also catch the virus. For instance, they can contract it when they kiss and have intimate contact with someone with the condition. They can also catch it by sharing personal effects like towels and razors.
Causes of cold sores
The virus which causes cold sores is known as the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). Below are some facts about HSV that you should know:
- Contracting the virus cannot be reversed. This means that once you get the HSV, you must live with it for the rest of your life.
- HSV usually travels to your nerves, where it stays and remains dormant. This happens when the sores clear up. However, if the virus reawakens, the sores will develop again.
- The virus may be awakened by triggers like; stress, fatigue, illness (like a cold, fever, or flu), injury (like cuts to the area you had the sores), and dental work. Cosmetic surgery, laser treatment, exposure to sunlight, hormonal changes, and certain foods can also trigger cold sores in some people.
- Most people are susceptible to at least one or more cold sore triggers
- Contracting the virus does not guarantee that you will get sores over and over as you may develop antibodies to the virus.
Cold sore treatment
Cold sores typically clear up on their own within a week or two. However, you can also use some natural and medical cold sore treatment options to speed up the healing process and ease the discomfort faster.
Medical cold sore treatments
It can be treated by taking antiviral medications. These medications help speed up the healing time and reduce recurrence rates. They can be used orally or antivirally. Examples of antiviral cold sore drugs are Zovirax and Valtrex. These medications will help heal the cold sores and ease the associated discomfort.
Natural cold sore remedies
Below are some natural ways you can heal cold sores:
- Using an ice pack – placing an ice pack directly over the sores can instantly relieve the swelling. When doing this, hold the ice pack in place for a while, then apply vaseline on the affected area to prevent a bacterial attack.
- Using licorice – this is an incredible natural remedy for cold sores because it is known for its antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. All you must do is prepare a tablespoon of licorice root powder and a teaspoon of freshwater, mix it and apply the mix to the affected area.
Other natural remedies are:
- Tea tree oil
- Peppermint oil
- Orange oil
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Vanilla extract and
- Aloe vera gel
Cold sores keep reoccurring because the virus that causes them lives in the body forever. Therefore, the sores will develop each time the virus gets triggered. However, understanding what your triggers are and avoiding them can help you prevent frequent flareups.