If you've ever had a cold sore, you know that they're not only the worst, but they somehow always seem to crop up at the most inopportune time ever (date night, any one?). The good news is there are some natural cold sore remedies that can help cut down on how long cold sores last, as well as ease your general discomfort.
According to the the Mayo Clinic, approximately 90 percent of adults have cold sores — or at least the virus that causes them — which unfortunately means the likelihood of you dealing with them in your lifetime is pretty high. And while cold sores generally clear up in about two weeks without leaving a scar, while they last they can cause oozing, blistering, and general discomfort on your mouth (ugh).
Basically, while common and in no way life-threatening, cold sores are just no fun and are often actively uncomfortable. Not to mention they can make us feel super self-conscious, even when we try to conceal them with makeup.
Unfortunately, I'm kind of a cold sore expert. I got my first one ever in grade school (gross, I know) and have been figuring out how to get rid of them quickly and efficiently ever since. If you get them often, or just want to deal with them as quickly as possible on the rare occasions you get them, here are seven tips for getting rid of them quickly and naturally.
1. Pump Up The Lysine
According to the wellness site for UC Berkley, while the effectiveness of lysine as a cold sore treatment is inconclusive, it has been shown to reduce the duration of an outbreak in certain studies (not to mention, some people I know literally swear by it). The logic behind it is that lysine helps prevent the absorption of the amino acid arginine, which the herpes virus thrives on. I personally believe anything is worth a try when battling a cold sore, so definitely keep some on hand for the next time you feel one coming on.
2. Zinc Oxide
According to Healthline.com, studies have shown that zinc oxide (found in lotion form in most drug stores) can reduce blistering and redness caused by cold sores, and can reduce the length of the outbreak if applied within 24 hours of the onset. As always, I think it's worth a try!
3. Lemon Balm
Lemon Balm Herb, $11, Life Extension
Healthline also recommended using lemon balm when a cold sore appears, but noted that the formula should be at least one percent lemon. You should be able to find this at most health food stores.
4. Aloe Vera
According to a piece in Everyday Health reviewed by Dr. Lindsey Marcellin, "dotting a bit of aloe vera on your cold sore a few times a day may ease your discomfort and help speed healing." You can also keep the lotion or plant in the fridge for some super cooling relief, and because you can eat aloe you don't have to worry about it being close to your mouth.
5. Witch Hazel
That same Everyday Health piece also recommended witch hazel as a remedy to soothe symptoms and potentially help dry out the blister. The benefit of this one is that it's likely something you already have around the house, and it's also super easy to find at the store.
6. Get Your Vitamin D On
According to the Alliance For Natural Health, Vitamin D is extremely important for healthy immune responses, as well as in suppressing viral outbreaks. However, they also noted that 60 percent of people are Vitamin D deficient. So if you struggle with cold sore outbreaks regularly, make sure you're getting enough sun or take a Vitamin D supplement — you just may find yourself feeling way better overall.
This is a tip noted in just about every article I've read on cold sore prevention. Since cold sores usually come about when we're stressed and tired (i.e: when our bodies are not at their strongest and best at suppressing viral outbreaks), getting enough rest is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. So the next time you feel one coming on, take it as a sign that you're probably overstretched and need to schedule some serious down time!
Cold sores suck. But that doesn't mean we have to just sit back and take it. Try some or all of the above natural remedies the next time you get one and get your life back all the sooner!