Cold sores are painful and unsightly, but they can be treated at home with a few simple steps.
Today we’ll go over the common causes of cold sores, how to avoid them in the future, and what you can do when you have one now.
What is a Cold Sore?
A cold sore is a small, fluid-filled blister that develops on the lips, mouth, or nose. Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) and are contagious.
While cold sores usually clear up on their own within two weeks, they can be painful and cause embarrassment. There are several things you can do to speed up the healing process and prevent cold sores in the future.
Common Causes of Cold Sores
There are two types of HSV: HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 is the most common cause of cold sores. It’s usually transmitted through contact with saliva, such as sharing utensils or kissing.
HSV-2 is the most common cause of genital herpes. It’s usually transmitted through sexual contact.
You can get HSV-1 or HSV-2 even if you don’t have any symptoms. The virus can be spread even when there are no visible sores.
Symptoms of Cold Sore
A cold sore, also known as a fever blister, is a sore that typically appears on the lips or around the mouth. These sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus. Symptoms of a cold sore include tingling, itching, or burning sensations around the lips; swelling of the lips; redness around the lips; small, fluid-filled blisters on the lips or around the mouth; and pain around the mouth.
How to Prevent Cold Sores
There is no cure for HSV, but there are things you can do to prevent cold sores.
Avoid close contact with people who have cold sores or herpes.
Wash your hands often, especially after touching your face or a cold sore.
Avoid sharing utensils, cups, or towels with someone who has a cold sore.
Don’t share lip balm, lipstick, or other personal items.
Avoid touching a cold sore. If you must touch it, wash your hands immediately afterward.
If you have HSV-1, avoid kissing and sexual contact when you have a cold sore.
Treating a Cold Sore
There are several over-the-counter treatments for cold sores, but you can also treat them at home with a few simple ingredients.
Apply a lip balm or cream to soothe and protect your lips.
Apply a cold, damp cloth to the sore to help relieve pain.
Apply a topical cream or ointment to the sore.
Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to help relieve pain and discomfort.
Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
If you have a cold sore, avoid picking at it. This can delay healing and increase the risk of infection.
If your cold sore is causing severe pain, see a doctor. They may prescribe a topical cream or antiviral medication to help speed up the healing process.
Cold sores usually clear up on their own within two weeks, but there are things you can do to speed up the healing process. Follow the tips above to treat your cold sore and prevent future outbreaks.