The herpes virus is associated with a lot of stigma in today’s society, despite how common the virus is among the general population. The cold sores produced by infection with the virus can be extremely uncomfortable and persistent.
Like many other kinds of mild skin blemishes, cold sores can lead to embarrassment and emotional distress, especially since they are located near or around the mouth area on the face.
By better understanding the causes of cold sores and the appropriate treatments, individuals suffering from these pesky blemishes can effectively cover up the visible signs and treat the outbreak internally as well.
The Basics Behind Cold Sores: Understanding The Herpes Virus
Cold sores are incredibly common infections that are caused by the herpes simplex virus, which lies dormant in human nerve cells until activation and outbreaks occur. Some factors that contribute to the activation of the virus include anxiety, high levels of stress, and other mental imbalances in one’s emotional and mental well-being.
Furthermore, stressors such as other illnesses – including the common cold – and exposure to excessive levels of direct sunlight can also lead to an outbreak of sores. Once an outbreak of canker sores starts, they will typically be present for one to two weeks.
However, some people confuse the concept of cold sores with canker sores: although both are sore bumps that can occur around and in the mouth, they are certainly different from one another.
Canker sores are bacterial infections that are characterized by the presence of small, white areas that are raised and painful, and they are often surrounded by a region of redness that resembles a halo. Canker sores, unlike cold sores, are not contagious – though they make make speaking, eating, or drinking mildly uncomfortable, depending on the location of the affected area.
Covering Up the Evidence: Safe Ways to Conceal Herpes Sores
Cold sores should not be embarrassing, especially since such a large portion of the human population suffers from them, but many people are eager to find a quick fix that will at least cover the visible signs of the problem. Makeup can effectively cover cold sores, at least in terms of redness, though the texture of the surface of the sore and the elevated, sore skin can be tricky to fully cover.
Furthermore, many of these make-up techniques do not allow the surface to effectively breathe, and can lead to agitation and trouble to exacerbate the sore further. However, it is far more effective to focus on supporting the healting process of the sore outbreak, and to work towards decreasing discomfort and pain within the sores as well.
Though it is not possible to fully prevent future outbreaks, it is certainly controllable to prevent the transmission of the illness to others, and managing the outbreaks can help to keep the sores from developing into something even more painful or unsightly. Though there’s no one size fits all advice on how to get rid of cold sores fast, there are a couple of remedies that promise to alleviate the symptoms fast.
Speedy Treatments: Easy Over-the-Counter Cures
Many medicines for treating cold sores are available at the pharmacy over the counter, and do not necessarily need prescriptions from a doctor. For example, one remedy that has been proven effective is docosanol cream, also known as behenyl alcohol. Generally, this cream can be applied directly onto the affected skin, five times per day, by completely rubbing this ointment onto the sores.
However, it is very important to check the label and consult with the pharmacist to know that the frequency of application and the strength of the cream are appropriate for treating your sores. Applying the cream as soon as symptoms appear is the most effective approach.
Another popular and effective way to get rid of cold sores fast is treating them with a styptic pencil, which in some cases is able to alleviate cold sore symptoms overnight. The treatment pencil is applied directly onto the lesion, once or twice per day as directed and dependent upon the strength of the pencil, which contains alum.
This treatment causes the blood vessels to contract, which helps to speed up the healing process within the sore. Those who use this method might feel some pain or discomfort when applying the pencil to the sore, but it is nevertheless effective.
Other Methods for Getting Rid of Cold Sores Fast
Another effective method of treating cold sores is using a drying agent to zap out the blemish. This drying agent might be an alcohol-based toner, astringent, or other drying facial fluid. The fluid is applied, often using a cotton swab or cotton ball, to the affected area. This leads to a lower risk of infection and bacterial contamination, and promotes healing of the blemish as well.
Overnight treatment might also include the use of petroleum jelly, which helps to soften the texture of the crust on the cold sores and reduce the cold sore’s severity, like many other emollient products that are on the market for treating cold sores. Petroleum jelly also assists in shielding against bacterial infection, and protects the sores from pain from cold weather or wind.
Alternative medicine is also used often within the field of treating cold sores. One overnight treatment for cold sores is tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca oil, which can be applied using a cotton ball.
Since tea tree oil has antiviral, antifungal, antibiotic, and antiseptic properties, it is extremely effective in terms of helping the cold sore outbreak disappear.However, be sure to test a small patch of skin before using on your face, and try diluting the oil with moisturizer to make the application less strong.
Sea salt can also be applied directly on the lesion to alleviate cold sore symptoms, pressing the salt into the sores and allowing it to sit on the sores for ten minutes before washing it off.
One method of involving salt within your treatment of cold sores includes mixing salt into a glass of warm water, and gargling and swishing the solution inside of one’s mouth for several minutes.
Preventing Herpes Simplex Infection
The key to avoiding herpes simplex infection – and reducing herpes cold sore outbreaks – is to strengthen one’s immune system. This is easily achieved using healthy diet and exercise habits, resting plentifully, and drinking lots of water each day. Avoid, if at all possible, getting sick – and take time to rest and recover to support your immune system’s hard work as you overcome a cold or the flu.
By reducing your stress, you can help to lower your risk of experiencing an additional outbreak, which can be best achieved through monitoring your self-care practices, engaging in mindfulness and meditation activities such as yoga.
In addition, be sure to reduce your exposure to harmful UV rays through sunscreen and skin protection with appropriate clothing when exposed to increased amounts of direct sunlight.
Prevent additional exposure to the virus through hand washing and keeping up your anti-bacterial hygiene routine. Also, be sure to avoid sharing drinks with or kissing someone who has a visible outbreak, and be sure to protect others from contracting the virus if you have confirmation that you in fact have herpes simplex infection and are experiencing a visible oral outbreak.