How To Treat Coldsores In 8 Easy Steps

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Cold sores are the worst!

Unlike other types of sores, cold sores are a bit more complicated to deal with. They're not just simple lesions or damaged skin--they're actually blisters that form on your skin as a result of the Herpes Simplex virus.

Before you start freaking out, your cold sores are NOT a surefire sign that you've got the dreaded STD known as "genital herpes." For the most part, cold sores are caused by Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) 1, while genital herpes is mostly caused by HSV 2. While HSV 1 can cause genital herpes, it will usually only happen if someone with an open sore places their mouth on their partner's genitals. The same goes for HSV 2.

Your cold sore is most likely HSV 1, and it's very unlikely that you have it anywhere particularly nasty. Most HSV 1 infections STAY in the mouth.

The bad news is that the HSV 1 infection is always going to be there. You can never truly get rid of the virus causing the infection.

The good news is that your body is usually able to suppress the virus and prevent it from causing an outbreak. The most common reason for cold sore breakouts is due to a suppressed immune system. With the good bacteria in your body weakened (for any number of reasons--stress, medication, illness, etc.), it's unable to stop the virus from causing the cold sores. But as soon as you get your immune system back up to full speed, you will be able to wrestle that nasty virus back into its cage and clear up the cold sore.

We've come up with a few ways to treat your cold sores. There's nothing drastic, we promise! Just a few simple changes to your lifestyle and some easy home remedies is all you need to clear up your cold sores in no time.

Reduce Stress

Stress can be your immune system's worst enemy!

There is two primary ways stress can affect your immune system:

  • 1. It creates inflammation -- When you're stressed, the levels of cortisol in your body skyrocket. This stress hormone can cause small-scale inflammation in your body. Over time, the inflammation can become "chronic". Your immune system will become so focused on trying to deal with whatever's causing the inflammation that it won't be able to deal with the real threat--in this case, the HSV.
  • 2. It reduces your immunity -- Not only does stress give your immune system more to deal with, but it thins the ranks of your antibodies by suppressing antibody production. It overworks your immune system while decreasing its ability to protect your body.

Is it any surprise that stress can lead to cold sore outbreaks?

Have you ever noticed how you tend to break out in cold sores when you're very stressed, nervous, worried, or anxious? It's because of stress' ability to reduce your immune system.

To combat and prevent cold sores, it's time to get your stress in hand. This means:

  • Sleeping more
  • Spending more time relaxing
  • Avoiding high-stress activities
  • Finding ways to deal with the daily stresses of family, work, and home life
  • Laughing more

The more you can avoid stress, the healthier--and happier--you will be, and the lower your risk of developing cold sores.

Apply Vanilla

Vanilla may be your favorite flavor of ice cream or pound cake, but it can be a pretty amazing remedy! You'll have to use PROPER vanilla extract (organic, if possible), as it contains strong compounds similar to alcohol. These compounds attack the virus directly, and you'll find that vanilla extract can help to reduce both the visibility and severity of the cold sores.

Here's what to do:

Step 1: Try this remedy the moment you feel the cold sore coming on. Cold sores are a lot like pimples--they're noticeable before they're fully developed. Use this remedy before the cold sore can break out completely, and you may be able to stop the virus in its tracks.

Step 2: Dip a cotton ball into pure vanilla extract, and let the ball soak up the vanilla. Apply it directly to the cold sore, holding it there for a couple of minutes.

Step 3: Rinse the area with warm water, and apply whatever cold sore ointment, cream, or oils you like to use. Repeat the process three or four times throughout the day.

By combining the vanilla extract with your favorite cold sore ointments, creams, or oils, you can speed up the healing process. Vanilla extract can be a potent anti-viral agent that will kill the HSV virus causing the sore to form.

Try Milk

Milk is more than just a delicious beverage--it can also be a remedy to help you deal with cold sores.

Cow's milk contains immunoglobins, proteins that boost your immune system by providing antibodies. These antibodies will fight off infections, including the HSV viral infection that is causing your cold sores to break out.

Milk also contains lysine, an amino acid that counterbalances the presence of arginine. The HSV feeds off arginine, but lysine prevents the arginine from being turned into food for the virus. Essentially, lysine deprives the virus of its source of nutrients, starving it and making it easier for your body to get rid of the infection.

Drinking whole milk helps to prevent outbreaks of cold sores, but what can you do if you've got a sore forming on your mouth? One great home remedy is to make a milk compress to apply directly to the sore.

To make the compress, dip a few cotton balls into milk and let it soak for a minute or so. Apply the soaked cotton ball to the cold sore for 3-5 minutes. You can apply the milk cold to soothe the burning sensation of the cold sore, but it works at room temperature as well.

Once you've soaked the sore for a few minutes, dispose of the cotton ball and use a clean towel to wipe off any milk residue. Apply petroleum jelly to the cold sore.

This remedy can do wonders to deal with cold sores. Try it, and you'll see that it works!

Fight the Fever

Cold sores are often called "fever blisters" because they form when you catch a serious cold that turns into a fever. Remember that fevers are your body's way of dealing with infections, and it's a sign your immune system is occupied dealing with other problems--too occupied to prevent the HSV from causing the cold sore to form.

To deal with the cold sore, you want to restore your immune system to full function. That means fighting the fever!

Here are a few tricks to help you fight the fever:

  • Take a lukewarm bath. Water that is too hot or too cold won't work to bring down your fever--bathe in water at room temperature.
  • Apply cold compresses to your inner thighs, the bottoms of your feet, the undersides of your arms, your neck, and your forehead. The cold compresses will help to bring down the fever effectively.
  • Rest. Rest is your best way to get rid of a fever, as it boosts your immune system and frees it up to focus on dealing with whatever is causing problems in your body.
  • Try a Popsicle or ice chips. When your temperature is very high, eating a Popsicle or a cup of ice chips can do wonders! The frozen foods will bring down your internal temperature, bringing down your fever.

Fighting the fever will help to restore your immune system to full function, enabling it to turn its attention to getting the HSV virus back under control.

Protect Your Skin

Did you know that excessive exposure to direct sunlight can cause cold sores to develop? Oddly enough, though most cold sores are the result of a compromised immune system, too much time in the sun can also cause the problem.

If you're prone to developing cold sores, make sure to wear plenty of sunscreens when out in the sun. Apply sunscreen every 45-60 minutes while outside, especially if the sun is very bright and hot.

Don't spend too much time in the sun! No more than an hour or two, then head inside or into the shade. Too much direct exposure to sunlight can cause you to break out in a cold sore.

Always remember to protect your lips when out in the sun. Wear a lip balm that offers protection from the sun's UV rays. Even when not out in the sun, try to protect your lips from becoming too dry. Wear chapstick or lip balm specifically for those with cold sores. It's easier to prevent an outbreak of cold sores than to treat it!

Try Licorice

Who doesn't love a bit of licorice? It's one of the oldest candies in the country, and one of America's favorite.

But the licorice you'll use to treat your cold sores won't come in candy form. Instead, you want to try either:

  • Real licorice, which is soft and much stronger flavored than the candied form. This is because it's made with true licorice, not anise.
  • Powdered licorice root. This is the truly potent stuff, which comes directly from the root of the licorice plant.

You can eat real licorice-like you would the candied form, and the potent compounds in the licorice will work in your intestines (where 80% of your immune activity takes place) to boost your beneficial bacteria and get your immune system back up to full speed. However, make sure to find licorice that is low in sugar, as sugar dampens your immune function.

If you have powdered licorice root, mix it with a bit of milk to make a thick paste. Dab a bit of the paste onto the cold sore (using a Q-tip, not your fingers). Let the paste sit for 10-15 minutes, then rinse it off with warm water. This is a VERY potent treatment, one that should get rid of the cold sores within a few days.

Watch Your Eating Habits

If you're not careful with what you eat, you could make the cold sore worse. How can you do this?

  • Real licorice, which is soft and much stronger flavored than the candied form. This is because it's made with true licorice, not anise.
  • Powdered licorice root. This is the truly potent stuff, which comes directly from the root of the licorice plant.

It may take the effort to change your eating habits, but it's important if you want to prevent outbreaks of cold sores.

If you've got a cold sore, it becomes DOUBLY important that you avoid the foods listed above. They'll just make the sore worse and feed the virus!

Try Medication

There are some options to help you deal with the cold sore:

  • OTC painkillers will help to prevent the cold sore from being too painful. Stick with Tylenol and Ibuprofen to deal with the pain.
  • Oral medications like Acyclovir, Famciclovir, and Penciclovir can help to deal with the cold sore, though they won't deal with the virus causing the problem. They're potent prescription antibiotics that can speed up healing.
  • Medicated ointments, gels, and creams can be found at every pharmacy, and they can be a useful option for treating the cold sore.

It's often good to have cold sore medication on hand just in case. Even if you try the natural remedies first, it's smart to have the medications as a backup plan!

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