This morning seemed like any other, albeit the tingling sensation underneath my nose. I rushed to the mirror in my bathroom and found a cold sore—f*ck! And yes, before you ask, cold sores can form in other areas other than your lips.
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus, and they’re more common than one might think. According to Better Health Channel, around 90 per cent of adults have herpes simplex antibodies in their bloodstream. And if you’ve ever had a cold sore, you know full well how painful, uncomfortable and unsightly they can be. Sure, they usually heal within a few days. But, there are ways to banish them much more quickly. It’s all about acting fast and breaking out the heavy artillery, so to speak.
How To Treat A Cold Sore—Quickly & Effectively
There’s one little item you have in your pantry that can help treat your cold sores: honey. In a study published in Medical Science Monitor, researchers discovered that for patients who applied honey to a cold sore four times per day, the sore healed in three days, compared with a six-day treatment of acyclovir, the active ingredient found in prescription cold sore medications, like Zovirax.
Lysine, an amino acid, is probably the most well-known treatment for cold sores. Why? It’s made up of proteins that help the body heal. According to nutritionist Jessica Sepel, eggs, turkey, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils and seafood are some of the best food sources of lysine. But, you can also take it in tablet form.
Cold sores often appear when the immune system is run down, so Sepel recommends loading up vitamin C-rich foods, like dark leafy greens, kiwifruit, broccoli, berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, peas, and papayas. She recommends taking at least 2 grams per day.
Essential Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are also known to help reduce the inflammation and pain associated with cold sore outbreaks, says Sepel. All the more reason to load up on oily fish, like salmon. If you’re in need of some recipe inspo, here are three salmon recipes you can make in thirty minutes.
According to Vicki Engsall, The Jojoba Company Co-Founder and Product Director, jojoba is a great cold sore treatment. “The tingling people feel when a cold sore is emerging is the [herpes] virus moving up the nerve shaft feeding on oxygen. Jojoba applied to the area will quickly mix with skin sebum and block the flow of oxygen to the virus, which retreats back into the nerve shaft. Jojoba also contains docosanol which is an ingredient in commercial cold sore treatments,” Engsall told Cosmopolitan.
Keep It Covered
It’s also worth covering your cold sore with a patch because it’ll speed up the healing process by keeping contaminants away and preventing you from touching (or picking) the sore.
For future reference, here’s how to prevent a cold sore:
- For some people, increased exposure to sunlight can trigger a cold sore. So, be sure to use sunscreen.
- Get some rest and practice self-care. Sometimes easier said than done, I know, but exhaustion and stress are also major cold sore triggers.
- Alcohol is known to weaken the immune system, so be mindful of how much and how often you’re drinking, recommends Sepel.
- Sepel also suggests taking magnesium (400-500 milligrams) and zinc (30 milligrams) supplements at night (for better absorption) to help prevent cold sores reappearing.