Cold sores are caused by a virus called herpes simplex. The virus often manifests itself at times when the immune system is low. The virus causes painful outbreaks of blisters and sores that can last for weeks at a time and are highly contagious. The outbreaks can be triggered by illness, overexposure to sun, and stress.
A cold sore looks like a blister, and over time, it breaks and oozes. It then develops into a yellow scab, with new raw skin underneath. Although generally not considered dangerous, cold sores are painful and can make you feel self conscious. They have also proven to be dangerous to infants, the elderly, or those with compromised immune systems.
Here are some natural ways to treat a cold sore outbreak from the comfort of your home:
1. Eat Healthy and Supplement
Eat foods high in vitamins and minerals. Some foods boost the immune system. Probiotics like apple cider vinegar, yogurt, kombucha, kimchi, and sauerkraut will help your body fight off the virus. Eat fewer sweets! Sugar lowers the immune system and feeds the virus. Also avoid peanuts and chocolate during an outbreak.
Supplement with l-lysine, which has powerful antiviral properties.
Vitamin E soothes the skin and repairs damage, reduces inflammation, and has antioxidant properties.
Boost your white blood cell count with vitamin C, which helps defend your body against invaders.
Zinc is an essential trace mineral needed to maintain health, reduce inflammation, and boost immunity.
Direct sunlight or sunburns may trigger a cold sore outbreak. Using sunscreen or avoiding heavy sun exposure may decrease your probability of an outbreak. Apply sunscreen (or a sunscreen-containing lip balm) on the lips throughout the day.
Be careful when selecting sunscreen, opting for natural, organic sunscreen. Or make your own.
3. Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera gel is used to treat many skin conditions like sunburns, infections, injuries, burns, and cold sores. It contains antioxidant vitamins, enzymes, minerals, fatty acids, and hormones that help with healing and preventing further infection. Apply it to cold sores often to ease the discomfort and speed the healing process.
4. Essential Oils
Many essential oils have antiviral constituents and healing properties, making them a great tool for healing cold sores.
Peppermint, tea tree, helichrysum, clove, lavender, bergamot, eucalyptus, geranium, lemon, and rose are all great essential oils to use on the blisters that form during an outbreak of herpes simplex. Apply them topically to the affected area.
* Because bergamot and lemon are photosensitizing oils, use them at night and avoid direct exposure to sunlight if using them in the daytime.
5. Echinacea Tea
Echinacea is commonly used for people trying to get rid of a cold. It is a powerful immune system stimulator. Drinking echinacea tea is an easy way to boost your immune system. It may also reduce pain and inflammation caused by the virus.
Replace your toothbrush or any lip balm or gloss you have used just prior to or during an outbreak.
Avoid touching the sores as much as possible. A cold sore is highly contagious until it crusts over and heals. Wash any cloth that you use on it as a compress and always thoroughly wash your hands after treating the infected area.
See the Reference Guide for Essential Oils to learn more about how essential oils can be used to treat cold sores.
Source: Reference Guide for Essential Oils, 2017 Edition, pp. 489–90.