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Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Best Natural Ways for Cold Sore Prevention and Treatment

After spending five fun and very long days in the sun with my parents, a large group of cold sores has taken up residence on my bottom lip. I haven't had a cold sore in years - and I think the cold sores knew it! It seems like every dormant virus in my body has popped up this time. Ha!

As you may already know, cold sores are Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1, which causes sores on your lip, mouth and nose area and generally last 7-14 days. There isn't a cure for cold sores, however there are things you can do to to extend the time in between outbreaks and ways to treat them when they do occur. This week, I have been researching different natural cold sore prevention and treatment options. Read on to learn how to prevent them in the first place and if do you get a cold sore or twelve - how to treat them naturally.

Prevention:

1. Protect Your Lips:

This is obvious - however, don't forget your lip balm and sunscreen when heading out for the day. I try to keep lip balm and sunscreen with me at all times. I keep them in the car, in my purse, in my desk, and throughout my home. Get in the habit of putting your lip balm and sunscreen on and keeping them with you to prevent not only cold sores but overexposure to the sun as well.

2. Take Your Vitamins:
While taking a daily multi-vitamin can be beneficial to your health, it can also help in the prevention and treatment of cold sores. Particularly Zinc Oxide and Lysine. However, before adding any vitamins to your daily regimen, you will want to consult with your health care provider to make sure they don't interact with any other medications or herbs you already take.
 
3. Don't Set Them Off:
When cold sores aren't having a party on your lips, they lay dormant in nerves below your skin. There are things that will wake them up, try to avoid these triggers:

- Ultraviolet radiation (such as sunburn) or Cold Weather
- Stress + Fatigue
- Infections, Colds, Flu + Fever
- Menstruation
- Low Immunity

Obviously, some of these triggers are hard or impossible to avoid - however you can limit the amount of stress in your life, boost your immunity, exercise and practice yoga, rejuvenate your entire body and if you have children who suffer from cold sores, get them into a healthy habit too!

The Healing Process:
 
1. Do Not Touch It:

First things first, when you do get a cold sore - do NOT touch it, at all. Do not attempt to pick, pinch or squeeze it, it will only makes it worse. Cold sores are extremely contagious, you can easily spread them to your family members. The key is not to touch the infected area and wash your hands often and thoroughly.

2. Keep It to Yourself:
Since cold sores are extremely contagious, you have to be very careful not to spread them to your family members. Don't share cups, utensils, washcloths or towels with anyone in your family - and absolutely no kissing! And once the outbreak begins, buy a new toothbrush and when the cold sore is gone, get another another one.

3. Get Pain-Free:
It's no secret - cold sores are painful! I am not a fan of taking painkillers, so taking one for a cold sore isn't an option for me. I have been using ice to ease the pain - and that seems to work for me. However, there are many homeopathic options available for you to try. If you have tried one before, I would love to hear your suggestions.

4. Get Natural:
There are many natural remedies for cold sores, I have heard of everything from tea tree oil to milk - from yogurt to licorice. I have been trying a new remedy that I read about this week - I have been applying natural pure vanilla extract to a cotton ball and holding it on the cold sore - and so far, so good. The area is drying out and the cold sores are starting to heal. If you suffer from cold sores, you may want to try a different natural remedy each time you get one until you find one that works well for you.

Do you suffer from cold sores? Do you have a tried and true natural prevention or treatment plan that you swear by? I would love to hear about them, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

photo via Walt Stoneburner
 
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