What Causes Cold Sores and How to Treat Them Fast

What Causes Cold Sores and How to Treat Them Fast

If you look in a mirror and see a small fluid-filled sore on your mouth, this means you have had a cold sore. The condition is super common and affects two-thirds of the world’s population. There is no cure for cold sores. They can come, go and come back, called outbreaks. Some people may have one outbreak a year, others may have more. Before an outbreak, you may notice a tingling, itching or burning sensation around your mouth. Most cold sores are not serious. But, they can cause pain, discomfort and embarrassment to the sufferer. You might have asked yourself “what is causing cold sores? Should I be worried by them and, most importantly, how can I treat them?” Here is everything you need to know.

Cold sores: what are they?

Cold sores are tiny, painful blisters that occur on the lips or around the mouth. They are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1, called HSV-1. This virus enters the body through a tiny cut or open wound on your skin, causing an infection. Cold sores usually develop into groups of tiny blisters. They appear within 2 days to 2 weeks after infection. And often, they go away on their own without treatment within 7 to 10 days. Here are 5 stages of an outbreak of cold sores.

  • You feel a tingling or burning sensation on your mouth, face or lips.
  • A small fluid-filled blister then appears, usually on your lips or around your mouth.
  • The blister breaks open, leaks fluid and leaves a raw, painful sore.
  • The sore dries out and forms a scab, causing itching and cracking.
  • The scab falls off, revealing new skin underneath.

Read more: Cold Sores and Herpes: Are They the Same?

Cold sore stages and symptoms

Cold sores

Who can get cold sores?

Cold sores affect people of all ages. About 90 percent of all people will have this condition at some point in their lifetime. Symptoms can be mild, moderate or severe, depending on sufferers.

Kids may get cold sores by kissing, or sharing cups and utensils with an infected person. For some kids, the condition can become extremely serious. It can spread to the eye, affecting your vision. It can also spread to the brain, leading to encephalitis or meningitis.

Newborn babies may get cold sores from their infected mothers. For those babies under 6 months old, the condition can cause severe effects. In some cases, it can spread to the main organs, leading to death.

Your genes can also contribute to cold sores. A study shows that most people with cold sores share genes related to how the virus act in their bodies. So if your family member has a cold sore, you will be likely to get it, too.

Read more: 5 Skin Conditions That Can Be Mistaken for Cold Sores

Cold sores in kids

Cold sores in kids

What causes cold sores?

As mentioned earlier, the virus HSV-1 can be responsible for cold sores. You can catch this virus when coming into contact with someone who has cold sores. Or, you might have HSV-1 already, and then you develop an outbreak. Here are several factors that increase your risk of developing a cold sore outbreak.

  • Weakened immune system
  • Stress, cold, flu, fever, or tiredness
  • Cold weather
  • Excessive sunlight or sunburns
  • Dental trauma
  • Menstruation
  • Infections, like eczema
  • Certain foods, such as nuts and wheat bread

Read more: Why Do People Often Get Cold Sores When They Are Sick?

Environment factors like cold weather can cause cold sores

Cold weather and cold sores

How contagious are cold sores?

Cold sores are highly contagious. The virus can be spread to others through skin contact. Transmission often occurs when blisters show up and when they leak fluid. Here is how the virus HSV-1 spreads.

  • Through saliva, like kissing or sharing utensils and drinking glasses
  • Through body fluids, like oral sex or sharing razors

Cold sores can also spread to other parts of your body. This happens when you touch the sore and then touch another skin area without washing your hands. To avoid the spread of cold sores, you can take the few tips below.

  • Don’t kiss with a cold sore
  • Don’t share things that you put in your mouth
  • Don’t touch your cold sore with your hands
  • Don’t engage in oral sex if you have cold sores
  • Avoid things that trigger an outbreak, such as stress
  • Use hot water to wash any items you’ve used
  • Consider treatment options

Read more: 10 Mistakes to Avoid When You Have Oral Sex with Cold Sores

Kids can get cold sores by kissing

Kids can get cold sores by kissing

How to treat cold sores fast

If you have cold sores, there are some ways to help you get rid of them fast. If your cold sores do not respond to these treatment options, see your dermatologist for help.

1. Keep your hands off

Because cold sores are contagious, it is important not to touch or pick at them. If you don’t leave them alone, you may prolong the symptoms, which can cause potential scarring. If you accidentally touch the sore, wash your hands immediately. And, avoid touching other parts of your body. This helps prevent the spread of cold sores to another area and to someone else.

2. Apply a cold compress

Doctors say that a cold compress can help reduce redness, pain and swelling of cold sores. So apply to the sores several times a day for 10 minutes at a time to ease the symptoms. This method can also help remove crusting and speed up healing.

3. Avoid acidic foods

Foods that contain acid can contribute to cold sores and worsen the symptoms. These foods are: beer, beef, sugar, tomatoes and citrus fruits. So if you have cold sores, avoid eating them.

4. Take L-lysine

Lysine has been shown to effectively fight against cold sores. It helps prevent the virus from activating, reducing the severity and promoting healing. You can take Lysine by using supplements or eating foods. This nutrient can be found in seafood like tuna and shellfish.

5. Use aloe vera

It helps soothe the sting and irritation of cold sores. Due to anti-inflammatory effects, aloe vera can help to reduce pain. Also, this ingredient can help speed the healing time.

6. Apply Prosurx cream

Prosurx is one of the best over-the-counter creams for cold sores. It is made with antiviral nanoparticles that can kill HSV both on the surface and lower layers of the skin. Because of these, the cream can work 5X faster than traditional creams. Also, Prosurx contains natural, antiviral ingredients, like tea tree, aloe vera, lemon balm and St John’s wort. They are known to be effectively anti-HSV. So to treat cold sores fast, apply Prosurx 2 to 3 times a day. Many sufferers use this cream and get rid of cold sores in just one day. Some say that this cream can help prevent the spread of cold sores and prevent future outbreaks. To get the best results, follow its directions exactly.

Read more: Stop Cold Sores- the Best and Worst Foods You Should Know

Consider cold sore treatment

Consider cold sore treatment

These above are what you need to about cold sores, and how to treat them fast. If you think you might have this condition, get it treated immediately. Besides, follow the preventative tips to avoid outbreaks in the future.

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