Cold sores are typically a manifestation of the non-curable herpes simplex virus. If left alone, most cold sores will eventually fade away without treatment, but this can take several weeks. To get rid of a cold sore fast, try one of the over-the-counter medications, home remedies, or prescription medications commonly used against cold sores. These may include options like antiviral creams, vanilla extract, and petroleum jelly. Note that everyone responds to each treatment differently, and not every treatment option will produce the desired result. This is especially true of alternative medicine. If you are interested in pursuing cold sore remedies, however, you have plenty of options to choose from.
Apply an antiviral cream.
Although a cold sore cannot be “cured”, medications and treatments can ease your symptoms and speed up the natural healing process. Probably the quickest and easiest way to treat a cold sore is way a treatment you can get from your pharmacy or drug store without a prescription from your doctor. The three main types of cream are penciclovir, docosanol, and acyclovir.
In a test of their antiviral effectiveness penciclovir came out on top.
These creams will only be really effective if you apply them straightaway when the first signs of the cold sore are apparent.
You will need to apply the cream frequently, up to five times a day for four or five days. Always check the label before using a cream.
Use a styptic pencil.
An alternative to a cream is to use a styptic pencil. This treatment is less specific for a cold sore but it can have a beneficial impact. You can use a styptic pencil to “draw” over the cold sore area once or twice a day, with the pencil applied directly to the cold sore.
The Alum in the pencils causes blood vessels to contract, which helps to speed up the healing process within the sore.
If you use this method you may find it a little painful and uncomfortable at first.
Use a drying agent.
One way to tackle a cold sore is through the application of a drying agent. Rubbing alcohol is one commonly used option. Make sure you get the 70 per cent solution, and apply to the cold sore with a cotton swab. The alcohol dries out the cold sore to help it heal and limits the chances of it becoming infected, which would greatly prolong it.
A drying agent is particularly effective when the sores first appear.
Zinc oxide and calamine lotion can dry out lesions.
Apply petroleum jelly.
Another easily available treatment, which works in precisely the opposite way to the rubbing alcohol, is petroleum jelly. The jelly will soften the skin rather than drying it, and it provides a protective layer to guard against infection. Any kind of infection will greatly increase the lifespan of your cold sore, so a protective layer of petroleum jelly can help you get rid of it as soon as possible.
When you are applying the petroleum jelly, do it gently and with clean fingers.
Allow your cold sore the chance to heal.
Although it can be tempting to pick and scratch away at your cold sore, doing so will interrupt the healing process. If you want to heal, you really have to leave it alone. Picking and scratching will just irritate it, using a tissue or Q tip, rub hydrogen peroxide on it until you see the inside of the cold sore , continue to do this 2 – 3 times a day. more You could also cause it to become infected, which would dramatically increase its lifespan, and could result in you having to take a trip to see your doctors.
Be sure to wash your hands regularly.
Be gentle when washing your face.
Know when to seek medical advice.
Most of the time cold sores will disappear on their own, or with the help of a store-bought or homemade remedy. Normally, you will not need to make an appointment to see your doctor, but there are occasions when you should do this. If your sore becomes infected with bacteria, often indicated by draining pus, then you contact your doctor immediately. You should also see your doctor if:
You are pregnant.
You experience a high temperature (over 100 degrees) you should see your doctor.
You suffer eye irritation.
Your cold sores do not go away after a couple of weeks.
Consider prescription medications.
There are a number of options for a doctor prescribing medications to treat persistent cold sores, and you should always listen carefully to your doctor and describe all your symptoms fully and directly. Any medications that are prescribed for you should be taken according to the instructions and your doctor’s guidance. Some of the treatments that you may be prescribed include:
Famciclovir oral anti-viral tablets; 500 mg tablets are taken three times daily.
Valacyclovir (Valtrex); 1000 mg tablets are taken twice daily.
An acyclovir cream, like that available over the counter but of a greater concentration. It is applied up to five times a day for four days. Acyclovir 400mg tablets can be taken three time daily by mouth.
Penciclovir cream is typically applied directly to the cold sore every two hours for four days.
Keep the virus from spreading.
Cold sores can be transmitted by sharing drinks, kissing, and through sexual contact; the virus is highly transmittable. Take the following precautions to avoid transmitting cold sores:
Avoid kissing during outbreaks.
Avoid sharing drinks, toothbrushes, and other items that touch the mouth.
To avoid transmitting the virus to a sexual partner, use a condom during oral sex, or use prophylactic medication. It has been shown that Valcyclovir has proven to lessen the risk of HSV-2 infection in couples.
In order to avoid an outbreak is is recommended that you reduce your amount of time in the sun and wear sunscreen. Sunscreen has been shown to reduce the incidence of recurrences.
Rub a little vanilla extract over the sore.
Home remedies with natural ingredients are always an uncertain science, and the U.S. National Institute of Health doesn’t report any to be consistently effective in all cases. Anecdotally, however there are a few things which may have a calming effect on cold sores. You can apply a few drops of pure vanilla extract to the cold sore using a sterile cotton ball three to four times per day.
The vanilla is alcohol based, and will function in a similar basic way to the rubbing alcohol. Vanilla extract also reduces inflammation, making the cold sore less painful.
Only use 100 percent pure vanilla extract. Do not use artificial vanilla, since it does not contain the same anti-infection properties.
Apply tea tree oil.
Tea tree oil is used as a treatment for a variety of skin complaints, and can be used to ease the symptoms of a cold sore. It dries out skin very effectively, which can help your cold sore’s healing process. It also has antiviral, antifungal, antiseptic and antibiotic properties. Dab it directly onto your cold sore with a cotton ball twice a day.
If you have sensitive skin, you may want to dilute the oil with equal parts water before applying it.
Tea tree oil is toxic when ingested, so take care when applying near the mouth.
Be aware that some research has suggested that using a 6% tea tree oil gel five times a day had little impact on cold sores.
Use sea salt.
You can apply sea salt directly to cold sores on the outside of the mouth or you can gurgle salt water to treat cold sores inside the mouth. With clean hands, press the salt gently into the cold sore and allow it to sit there for around ten minutes before you wash it off. You can do this treatment two or three times a day.
Gargling with a salt water solution can ease a cold sore. Add half a teaspoon of salt to a mug of water. Swish the solution in your mouth for several minutes.
The minerals in sea salt are thought to heal broken, inflamed skin, thereby reducing the severity of cold sores.
Apply witch hazel.
Witch hazel has long been used for medicinal purposes, and it can be used to treat the symptoms of a cold sore. It works in a similar way to tea tree oil, naturally drying out the skin to aid healing. Simply dab a few drops of witch hazel extract onto the cold sore using a clean cotton ball once or twice a day.
Witch hazel has a tendency to irritate sensitive skin. Before applying it to your face, apply a small amount to your elbow.
If it does not bother the skin on your elbow, you can try applying a small amount to the cold sore.
As with the other drying agents, applying this as soon as you notice the cold sore will give you the greatest benefits.