Cold sores are painful, irritating and even unsightly blisters and sores that pop up unexpected and take weeks to go away. At least seventy five percent of the world’s population has suffered from a cold sore in their lifetime. And since cold sores are a permanent infection that lays dormant in your nerves these people will experience many outbreaks in their lifetime. Yet many of these people don’t understand exactly what cold sores are. How do you get them and ways to prevent them from reoccurring often? And what are the better treatments to use in order to make the healing time faster?
Exactly what are cold sores? Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are caused by the herpes simplex one virus. Symptoms of the herpes simplex virus are small watery blisters in the skin or in your mucous membranes in your mouth, nose, or on your lips. This virus hides in the nerves of your body causing it to outbreak again and again depending on many factors. What does a cold sore look like?
They take around two weeks to fully run their course and have five different stages of appearance to them. First the spot where the sore will be starts tingling; maybe it swells, or feels numb. This is the stage where many people mistake the cold sore for a pimple and pick at it which makes the sore get bigger and it will become much more painful. Stage two the virus will start making tiny blisters which often occur in clusters. These blisters will also take on a yellow or grayish color on them. This is the most painful time of your cold sore. Also this is the most contagious time. It is very important not to touch the sore and spread it from person to person. Stage three the cold sore loses its yellow or gray color and starts to scab over. The virus is trying to die. Also important not to pick off the scab because the liquid underneath is contagious. This can also cause more outbreaks on your face. Stage four the scab dries up and starts to flake off and get smaller and smaller until we reach stage five where all that is left but a small red spot where the infection was at. At this point the cold sore virus has taken dormant in your nerve cells waiting for another outbreak.
Not only do people wonder what are cold sores they wonder how can I prevent them from happening. There are several things that cause increase in reoccurrences. Having a strong immune system helps with this. Eating foods high in amino acids will help to keep your diet healthy. Eating plenty of dairy also helps. You should avoid foods such as chocolate, peanuts, grains and beer. These foods are packed with arginine and that increases your outbreaks. Other causes of increased cold sore outbreaks are stress, irritation, and pregnancy. Also any type of dental surgery or facial surgery can cause an outbreak. Something easy to avoid is over exposure to the sun and wind. Avoid touching a person who has the active virus. Never kiss someone who has the cold sore virus if you can see it at all. Do not share razors, toothbrushes, drinks or eating utensils. These can all spread the virus quickly. When you do have an outbreak, be sure and throw your toothbrush away to avoid spreading it back to yourself.
If you do have an outbreak of cold sores there are many remedies to help quicken the healing time. Trying home remedies can help save money since nothing actually cures a cold sore. Some of the things you can apply to the sore to make them dry up quicker are raw onions, witch hazel, aloe-vera, zinc, or ginger root. Applying ice can help with the swelling and ease some of the pain. Or you can buy over the counter medicines such as Abreva. These topical creams have also been proven to help with the healing time. Going to a doctor for a follow up is only necessary if you start running a fever or get the cold sores in your eyes. In these cases see a doctor immediately.