This Morning: Dr Chris explains how to treat cold sores
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Though cold sores are caused by a form of the herpes virus (HSV), the winter weather can provide the perfect environment for them to thrive. Harsh, dry winds and a drop in temperature can result in dry lips, perfect for cold sores to make themselves at home.
Although the lip sores are harmless, they can be irritating and in some cases painful.
Their appearance can also be rather undesirable, and the sore itself is actually contagious even while it is healing.
Outbreaks can be tackled with a number of over-the-counter lotions and medicines and may help to limit how transferable the sores are.
The NHS points out that cold sores “usually clear up on their own within 10 days, but there are things you can do to help ease the pain.”
There are a number of home remedies that you can apply to the area at home to help soothe the sore and restore your lips to their former softness.
Despite anecdotal evidence of natural remedies and their potential pain-reducing abilities, it is important to note that these likely do not reduce the spread of the virus.
Peppermint oil can be used topically for a number of things, including headache, muscle aches, joint pain and itching.
Among its uses, though, is apparently its ability to soothe the pain associated with a cold sore.
A 2003 lab study analysing HSV found that peppermint oil had the potential to calm some of the symptoms of the herpes strain.
Peppermint oil is most effective if it is diluted with water.
Patients are recommended to apply the diluted solution directly to the cold sore.
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Aloe vera gel
Aloe vera gel is often cited for its soothing abilities, typically used to remove the itch of a bug bite and the sting of sunburn.
Research on the effectiveness of aloe vera on cold sores, however, is still ongoing.
But, aloe vera is generally deemed to be safe for topical use on the skin, and as it is a natural product, there is no worry if it gets in your mouth.
Every Day Health recommends dabbing a bit of aloe vera on your cold sore throughout the day to ease discomfort.
The gel can be kept in the fridge for an additional soothing sensation.
Lemon balm is derived from a herb in the mint family and is used both in medicine and in foods.
Past studies have concluded that lemon balm may help to speed up the healing process of HSV or reduce the painful symptoms.
A study of 116 people with the virus found that those who applied a lemon balm cream to their lip sores saw a significant improvement in redness and swelling.
Furthermore, a 2014 stud determined that lemon balm oil could inhibit the herpes virus’ penetration of cells by as much as 96 percent in drug-resistant strains.
There are numerous lip balms and creams which have lemon balm infused within them.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is often cited for its ability to banish spots, but it might also work some wonders when it comes to bothersome lip sores.
In 2009, researchers concluded that tea tree oil had a “potentially antiviral effect” on HSV.
However, this was only done on isolated samples, meaning the results were not enough to fully prove its effectiveness.
Despite this, anecdotal evidence shows diluted tea tree oil may be able to speed up the healing process, according to Healthline.
Once you have mixed the oil with a gentle carrier oil, dab it directly onto the cold sore using a clean cotton swab.
Tea tree can be harsh on the skin, though, so it should not be used more than twice per day.
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