Cold sores are small, fluid-filled blisters that form on the lips, cheeks, or inside the mouth. They are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), which is a common virus that can cause a variety of infections, including genital herpes.
Cold sores are not serious, but they can be painful and unsightly. They typically heal on their own within 7-10 days, but there are a number of things you can do to speed up the healing process and relieve symptoms.
Here are some tips on how to get rid of cold sores:
- Apply a cold compress. Applying a cold compress to the cold sore can help to reduce pain and inflammation. You can use a cold washcloth, ice pack, or frozen bag of vegetables.
- Use an over-the-counter pain reliever. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help to relieve pain and inflammation associated with cold sores.
- Use an antiviral ointment. Antiviral ointments, such as acyclovir or penciclovir, can help to speed up the healing process and reduce the severity of cold sores. These ointments are most effective if applied early on, within 48 hours of the first sign of a cold sore.
- Avoid touching the cold sore. Touching the cold sore can spread the virus to other parts of your body or to other people. If you do touch the cold sore, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
- Eat a healthy diet and get enough rest. Eating a healthy diet and getting enough rest can help to boost your immune system and promote healing.
If you have severe cold sores or cold sores that do not heal within 10 days, see a doctor. Your doctor may prescribe oral antiviral medication to help speed up the healing process and reduce the severity of cold sores.
Here are some additional tips to help prevent cold sores:
- Avoid close contact with people who have cold sores. Cold sores are contagious and can be spread through contact with the fluid from the blisters.
- Wash your hands frequently. Washing your hands frequently can help to prevent the spread of the virus.
- Avoid stress. Stress can trigger cold sores. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as exercise, relaxation techniques, and getting enough sleep.
- Use sunscreen. Sun exposure can trigger cold sores. Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to your lips and face before going outside.
If you have any questions or concerns about cold sores, be sure to talk to your doctor.