Written by: Burnette Nguyen
I have to turn in all the paperwork for the wedding, then complete all the handouts for my gluten-free workshop by the end of this week, write my next blog post and create my next article. Wait a minute… What is this itchy feeling in my mouth? Oh no… it’s a cold sore!
What Are Cold Sores?
The technical term for cold sores or fever blisters is Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV-1). HSV-1 symptoms commonly occur around the lips and mouth, even though it can infect other parts of the body as well. Common symptoms are itchiness or pain around the mouth area. The area may become inflamed, causing discomfort. Soon after, clusters of blisters may appear in the irritated mouth area.
How Do You Get Cold Sores?
You first get cold sores by being in direct contact with virus-containing fluid or the cold sore itself. Infection normally spreads by sharing utensils, cups, kissing, towels, cosmetics, etc., with someone who has a cold sore.
Once you get a cold sore, the virus stays dormant in your nervous system forever. You have a risk of recurring symptoms, especially if you are stressed, your immune system is weak, have prolonged sun exposure, menstruation, irritation to the skin or skin trauma.
So you have a cold sore… here are some tips YOU can try to knock it dead in its tracks!
1. Isolate The Infection: Once you feel a cold sore coming on, try to contain the infection and prevent further contamination. If you accidentally touch the cold sore, wash your hands immediately. Avoid kissing others and do NOT share towels, utensils, toothbrushes, food, cups or any other items that come in contact with your mouth. Use disposable napkins or tissues to wipe your mouth. If applying cosmetics, use disposable applicators so you don’t contaminate your makeup.
2. Lysine Is Your Hero: As soon as you feel the itchy feeling, take 2,000 mg of the amino acid, lysine. Since the virus needs the amino acid, arginine to replicate, lysine has been shown to prevent absorption of arginine. Eating foods rich in lysine – such as most vegetables, fruit, wild-caught fish and grass-fed meat – can also help prevent and heal cold sores. Continue taking 2,000 mg of lysine daily until the cold sore goes away.
3. Apply Lavender Essential Oil: Take a Q-tip with some lavender essential oil on the end and gently apply some to the cold sore. Make sure not to rub or break open the blisters. Lavender will help disinfect the area, reduce the inflammation and promote healing of the skin.
4. Cover It: Most drugstores sell cold sore bandages. These are helpful for concealing the infected area, promoting healing and preventing irritants and further infection. The bandages also enable you to apply a little bit of makeup on top of the site so you can conceal the area without irritating the infected area. I would still recommend using disposable applicators to apply makeup on top of the bandage.
5. Leave The Cold Sore Alone And Chill Out: When I get a cold sore, I look at as a sign for me to relax and take better care of my health. Try to find ways to reduce your stress, get some rest and take care of yourself. Also, avoid contact with the cold sore as much as possible. I’ve noticed that the more I stress about it and “check” on it, the more irritated the sore becomes, which delays healing.
When I was getting treatment for my kidney disease, my immune system was low and I would get cold sores every few weeks. Now that I’m in remission and have cleaned up my lifestyle, I rarely get cold sores unless I’m under a lot of stress. After implementing the above protocol, it cut healing time from 7-10 days to 3-4 days.