If you struggle with cold sores, you know how irritating (both literally and figuratively) they can be. These tiny, fluid-filled blisters are known to appear on or around the lips, often in clusters. Aside from the visible blemish, cold sores can be accompanied by itching, burning, and tingling around the site of the sore. If the blisters burst, you’ll be left with open sores that ooze and then scab over. During a first-time outbreak, it’s also possible to experience fever, sore throat, headache, and muscle aches (via Mayo Clinic).
Essentially, it’s not a pleasant time. While there is no cure for cold sores (as they are caused by a virus), there are recommended ways to minimize their spread. Because they are transmitted through skin contact, it’s important to avoid coming into physical contact with others while blisters are present. Avoiding sharing items like glasses, utensils, and lip products as well as washing your hands frequently is also important. However, if you’ve found yourself still suffering from cold sores, there are steps you can take to reduce the length and severity of an outbreak.
Do this at the first sign of a cold-sore outbreak
When cold sores strike, ice may be your best bet for prevention. Sarah Brown, a sensitive skin expert and the founder of Pai Skincare, tells Byrdie that applying ice to the skin can help stop cold sores from appearing. “As soon as you feel that first tingle apply an ice cube directly to the affected area for as long as you can bear it,” she tells the outlet. “The shock is supposed to dull the nerve endings and stop the sore developing.”
Hydration is also key for treating cold sores and speeding up the healing process. Plus, if you’re looking to cover your blisters with makeup, moisturizing the area will help the product apply more seamlessly, New York City dermatologist Dr. Gary Goldberg tells Byrdie. However, if your sores are open, you should avoid makeup until they have scabbed over completely.
Other home remedies have also been found to help soothe sores. According to a recent study in the journal BMJ Open, kanuka honey, which comes from the manuka tree in New Zealand, can be a useful treatment. Diluted forms of tea tree oil and apple cider vinegar also have proposed bacteria-fighting properties, though research is limited (via Healthline). Of course, if your cold sores become severe, be sure to speak to your doctor about over-the-counter topical antiviral ointments as well as prescription options.
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