How can Cold Sores be Treated?
Products containing docosanol- Docosanol is a compound that is capable of inhibiting the herpes virus and therefore can help to limit both the duration and severity of cold sores.
Penciclovir (Denavir) - Ithas the capability of interfering with the herpes simplex virus' ability to replicate (produce more virus particles) and therefore is a true antiviral medication. If applied early enough this product has been demonstrated to significantly limit both the severity and duration of cold sores. Denavir is an antiviral cream that has been specifically developed as a medication for the treatment of cold sores. It is the first and only prescription cold sore medication to be approved by the FDA. Studies have shown that Denavir can both lessen the pain from cold sores and speed up their healing.
Numbing agents for cold sores- When numbing agents are applied to cold sores, they can help alleviate a cold sore's burning, itching and pain. Some of the active ingredients found in these types of products are: tetracaine, benzocaine, lidocaine, benzyl alcohol, camphor and phenol.
Medications that moisturize and soften cold sores- Lip balms or moisturizing agents such as petroleum jelly can help to prevent the cold sore scabs from cracking and bleeding. Common ingredients found in this type of product are petrolatum and allantoin.
Medications that provide sunscreen protection- Exposure to excessive amounts of sunlight can trigger the formation of cold sores. Many lip balm medications that contain zinc oxide or some other compound that provides sunscreen protection can be helpful.
Products that limit cold sore formation or promote their healing- The compounds zinc, lysine, phenol and tannic acid have each been suggested as having antiviral properties, and thus are thought to have an inhibitory effect on the herpes virus particles' ability to form cold sore lesions. Antibacterial agents will not affect herpes virus particles but medications that contain these types of compounds can help to provide an environment that will promote the prompt healing of cold sores by way of preventing a secondary bacterial infection.
Over the counter (OTC) pain killers- They can be used to relieve the pain caused by the blisters.
Cold compression- Applying ice or cold compression to the blisters can ease the pain. Application of ice for 5-10 minutes each hour during the day will reduce the temperature of the area where the cold sore is forming. This temperature reduction will lower the area's metabolic rate and, in turn, hamper the cold sore's development. Intermittent application of ice to cold sores can act as a numbing agent, which can lessen their pain and itching.
Apply Tea Bag- Tea contains tannic acid and it has been suggested that tannic acid possesses antiviral properties. Placing a tea bag on cold sores when they begin to form especially during the tingle stage can possibly minimize the extent to which they will develop. One should position the moistened tea bag on the area where the cold sore is forming for a few minutes every hour.
Nutritional supplements- L-lysine an amino acid, has been reported to reduce outbreaks of cold sores but this fact has not been conclusively proven by medical research. Lysine supplements should only be taken only with the recommendation of a health care professional.
Herbal remedies- The herbal antiseptics Sage and Tea Tree Oil and the herbal sedative Violet have each been suggested as treatments for cold sores. Herbal treatments must be used appropriately, and therefore should only be used with the recommendation of a health care professional.
Let the cold sores heal by themselves. Avoid squeezing, pinching or picking at any blister.