People confuse cold sores and canker. Cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus but canker sores are due to bacterial infections in the mouth. They look like small, round, white areas, surrounded with sharp halo of red. Cold sore appears as small, tightly- knit clusters of blisters.
Once infected by the virus there is no cure. They are generally brought on by stress, over exposure to sun, extreme cold or dryness, or prolonged illness.
To get better results sleep well, hydrate properly, and have vitamins. Stress should be avoided. Wash hands properly after touching the cold sores. Any cosmetic product or things such as tooth brush used immediately before or after the outbreaks should be discarded. They not only can infect your near and dear ones but you might inadvertently end up triggering a relapse.
Very contagious. Sharing personal items, kissing, should be avoided. Care should be taken to not to touch genitals eyes etc without washing your hands after touching cold sores or being exposed to someone with cold sores.
Makeup or cosmetic should not be used to camouflage the sore as it will only aggravate it further.
Food. Acidic and salty food should be avoided. They tend to irritate and further aggravate the sores, adding to the pain.
Extreme weather. Apply sunscreen to the lips to reduce the recurrence of sun-induced outbreaks. During winter season keep yourself warm adequately.
Generally people who get cold sores get a prior indication preceding the outbreak. Symptoms like numbness, burning, tingling do indicate its outbreak. Here is what you can do once you have an episode of cold sores. When you notice these symptoms starting the treatment is helpful as it will either stop it from erupting or it will shorten the duration of the outbreaks.
Pain killer. Over-the-counter pain killers will help with pain. Over the counter benzocaine can help reduce pain.
Application of petroleum jelly over the cold sore speeds up healing and softens the sores. The thin film of gel also protects against secondary bacterial infection.Taking Lysine in pill form though expensive is very effective. If started before the outbreak it reduces the occurrence and if taken once it has erupted it cuts down the healing time.
Rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol when applied directly on the cold sore dries it faster and relieves the throbbing pain.
Lemon balm. Lemon balm has antiviral properties and it is claimed that if applied regularly can prevent future breakouts and reduces the healing time by half.
Honey. Honey is easily available everywhere and most of the households have it in the pantry. It has the property to suppress microorganisms, by drawing the fluid away and releasing hydrogen peroxide at a low level works better than most of the over-the-counter remedies.
Similarly aloe vera gel too provides quick relief from the pain. It is very easily available in any medical stores and can be grown easily at home. The plant is very hardy and can survive any hardened brown thumb.
Oral antiviral medications are of not of much help once the cold sore episode sets in and topical creams and ointments reduce the itching and pain. However oral antivirals if taken daily can prevent repeated occurrences especially in people with painful episodes of severe intensity.
With not much of a permanent remedy in site for this commonly occurring problem, prevention seems to be the best way to go about.