Treating a Cold Sore
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Treating a cold sore - Overview

Cold sores are nasty uninvited guests that start with one or two painful, fluid-filled blisters on the lips, nostril or surrounding area.

These pesky blisters tend to cluster together causing a sore the size of a baseball (or so it seems).

To make matters worse, everyone within twenty paces immediately notices the unsightly blemish.

It never fails. Murphy’s law states that a cold sore will always appear just before an important event, such as a presentation, a blind date, or that long awaited class reunion...

Before getting into details on treating a cold sore, we should first understand the nature of the disease:Cold Sore

  • The herpes simplex type I (or sometimes type II) virus is responsible for a cold sore on lip, nose, chin and sometimes the eyes. (see "Virus Identification" topic)
  • Many people contract the type I virus during childhood.
  • It’s incurable.
  • It lurks in the nerve cluster (ganglion) behind the ear or at the base of the spine. Once there, it lies in ambush, just waiting for your immune system to let down its guard.


Are Cold Sores Contagious?

You bet! In fact, you can even catch one from yourself on a different part of your body if you pick at the sore.

The result? Perhaps a nasty, very painful herpes whitlow on your finger; or an outbreak down there if you happen to use the bathroom before washing your hands.


Worst case scenario?

Image Courtesy Wikipedia
Herpes Keratitis

If you touch your eyelid with an infected finger, it could result in Herpes Keratitis (eye Herpes).

This is a dangerous condition that could lead to blindness.

In rare cases, it could even infect the brain with Herpesviral encephalitis. This is is a severe viral infection of the human central nervous system.


First Lesson in Treating a Cold Sore:

Don’t touch that cold sore! And if you do, wash your hands thoroughly with an anti-bacterial soap. In fact, you should become a compulsive hand washer during a cold sore outbreak.

Avoid skin-to-skin contact with other people. And that includes kissing and shaking hands.


The Prodrome:

Many people experience unpleasant tingling, itching or numbness at the site of an imminent outbreak. This “prodrome” can occur a couple of days or even hours before that first tiny blister appears.

If you experience a prodrome don’t complain, rejoice!

Why? Because you can start your cold sore treatment immediately and take steps to speed up the healing process... or even stop that sucker before it gets out of hand.


Stages in Treating a Cold Sore:

In cases of severe infection during a primary outbreak, your doctor may prescribe oral antivirals, such as Acyclovir, Famvir or Valyclovir.

Topical ointments such as Docosanol 10% cream (Abreva®), acyclovir (Zovirax®) and valacyclovir (Valtrex®) are effective in treating a cold sore, but they only reduce the duration of a cold sore outbreak by a day or so.

Since cold sores can last up to 21 days - and these medications are expensive, many people think they are hardly worth the effort.

However, there appears to be one exception to this rule:

  1. Many reports indicate that if you apply Dynamiclear to the lesion after it develops, the cold sores will disappear within 72 hours.
There is more positive news: In a pilot study carried out by the Southern California university on June 10 2005, Lysine ointment proved to be highly effective in treating a cold sore.

The report stated: "At the end of treatment the ointment produced full resolution in 40 percent of the participants by the third day and in 87 percent by the end of the sixth day".

Many sufferers engage in a relentless
Internet hunt for effective remedies, and
this is where interactive websites and
forums, such as our own Pay It Forward
section, play an important part.


Initial Steps:

  1. At the very first sign of a prodrome or redness in the usual cold sore area, take 3000 mg of a Lysine supplement (obtainable from health food stores). Follow up with 1,000 mg taken three times a day.
  2. Swallow a good multi-vitamin containing Zinc. Follow up with a vitamin B12 capsule. Repeat daily.
  3. Hold an ice cube against the suspect area until it melts. Repeat several times during the first day.
These cold sore home remedy steps will often stop the infection in its tracks. However, if blisters form and then burst open and crust over, stop applying ice and switch to warm tea bags.


Getting Rid of Cold Sores Quickly:

  • Zap them with Dynamiclear.
  • Keep them clean. Wash the area with warm water 3 or 4 times a day. Follow up by holding a warm tea bag on the lesion for 5 minutes.
  • Using a q-tip, swab sores with hydrogen peroxide immediately after using the tea bag.
  • Cover the cold sores with a layer of Lysine ointment. Do not attempt to disguise with make-up. The chemicals in lipsticks and make-up could aggravate the sores.
  • Change your toothbrush after the blisters pop. Discard the toothbrush after the scabs fall away.
  • Avoid direct sunlight and wind.
  • Relax. Stressful situations will exacerbate the infection.
  • Continue with the vitamins and suck a few zinc lozenges daily. This will boost your immune system and speed up the healing time.

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