I had a cold sore pop up on Thanksgiving Monday on my lower lip. I only get one or two cold sores a year, either on my right lower lip or midway up my right upper lip. The stupid things drive me nuts because I already have a bad habit of chewing my lips when they are chapped
Cold sores make me lick and chew my lips even more, which leads to the scab getting white, puffy and irritated. Next thing you know, the scab comes off and then the healing takes that much longer, which means that much longer before I can wear pretty lip gloss and lipstick again!
I've been trying not to think about it all week, but I thought I'd share my treatments with you since I've been fixing these little suckers for 20+ years.
Okay, first I'll give you the ugly medical facts and statistics, courtesy of coldsores.ca:
- Cold sores are a cluster of blisters on or around your lips and mouth, and (rarely) on or inside the nose, chin and cheeks. They often appear at the corners of the mouth. They are caused by the herpes simplex virus (mouth virus is HSV-1, genital is HSV-2). You can spread infections to other areas of your body (eyes, fingers, genitals).
- 30-60% of children under 10 years old get infected with HSV-1, usually from family members. By age 50, 80-90% of us are infected.
- Some people never show symptoms.
- Often you are infected as a child; some children experience symptoms in their throat.
- Once you are infected, it never leaves you.
- When dormant, it hides in your central nervous system. When it activates, it erupts from the nerves in the skin.
- Breakouts are often preceded by prodromal symptoms: tingling, itching, redness or burning.
- Stress, sun exposure, menstruation or fever can cause an outbreak.
- You can transmit the virus when you don't have an outbreak (asymptomatic shedding).
- Cold sores usually reappear in the same location.
My Mom has always told me to try prescription medication for them, but since they're kind of mild, I usually just use over-the-counter medications to treat the cold sore and a lip moisturizer I dispose of when I heal. I have tried nearly every cold sore treatment on the market since I was a teenager, whether it was a liquid or a gel. I've also tried the home remedies: lemon juice and salt paste was the best tasting, but didn't work better than anything else.
My favourite cold sore treatment is Nature's Essence Cold Sore Relief, and it rocks hard. This little 4ml potion is made from essential oils including Tea Tree, Geranium, Bergamot, Eucalyptus, Chamomile and Lavender. These essential oils combine anti-viral, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Most importantly, it keeps the cold sore moist without being too wet. This is really important because if the sore gets too wet, it gets mushy; but if it dries out, it tends to crack, which also takes longer to heal.
As soon as I feel that familiar tingling, I apply Nature's Essence like mad on the first day (several times an hour), and it keeps the site from filling with liquid into a big blister. This is the first treatment I've ever used that consistently keeps the blister from popping up. Every day after, I keep using it to heal the sore fast and keep it moist enough to avoid cracking.
I'm still not brave enough to take pictures of myself for this blog, but on Wednesday a girl at work did a double-take when I told her I had a cold sore. She hadn't noticed it was there. I'm already at the healing stage, and the inflammation is almost gone.