Cold Sores and
Natural Remedies
Information you'll find here:
  • Cold sore statistics and other general data
  • Causes and symptoms of cold sores
  • Natural treatments (remedies, supplements [vitamins, etc.], foods to eat and foods to minimize)
  • Pharmaceutical and over-the-counter drug treatments
  • Suggestions for curbing the spread of cold sores to others
  • See more info bits

These sores can be painful and embarrassing, but are not a serious infection. There is no cure and no vaccine for oral herpes. Outbreaks usually occur less frequently around age 35. Though not common, the spread of the virus to the eyes is very serious and can cause scarring in the cornea impairing vision. Cold sores result from viruses not bacteria.

Cold sores usually form around the edges of mouth (lips) and in rare instances initially inside the mouth. They may appear to be a clear fluid-filled blister and can be itchy or even painful burning. They are caused by a herpes simplex virus infection. Cold sores are also known as fever blisters, herpes febrilis, herpes labialis, labial herpes, and oral herpes. Cold sores differ from canker sores which appear inside the mouth. Canker sores can form on the tongue or inside the cheeks.

There are eight different kinds of human herpes viruses. Herpes simplex types 1 and 2 can cause
take a lysine (L-Lysine)
supplement of 1,000mg
three times a day for the
duration of a cold sore
cold sores. Both herpes virus type 1 and type 2 can cause herpes lesions on the lips or genitals, but recurrent cold sores are almost always type 1.

More than 60% of Americans have had a cold sore and nearly 25% of those infected experience recurring outbreaks. Most people were infected before age 10 and retain the virus for life. It is spread via direct skin-to-skin contact. Though the virus spreads more readily during the time of blistering, it can be transmitted through saliva even when no visible symptoms exist.

Causes & Symptoms
Although not entirely understood it appears that several conditions seem to bring on infections including stress, illness, tiredness, too much exposure to sunlight (sunburn), temperature extremes, menstruation in women, fever, and diet deficiencies.

Not everyone who is infected with the virus will exhibit symptoms. Symptoms of the primary infection occur within two to 20 days. They are usually more severe than those of recurrent infections. The primary infection can include tiredness, headache, fever, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck. Recurrent outbreaks can occur once or more each year with some having frequent outbreaks.

Before the actual break-out of blisters, a majority of persons with the oral herpes virus will experience pain, burning, itching, or tingling at the site where blisters will form. This first stage can take from a few hours to two days after which small red bumps surface then shortly after that blisters form. 95% of people infected with cold sores have the blisters around the edge of the mouth. It's possible that blisters might form on the nose, chin, or cheek. Eventually the painful blisters form a scab within 2—3 days and heal completely without scarring within about 10 days.

Be aware that if your child has a serious first episode of the infection including blisters inside the mouth and tongue, it can be difficult for them to eat and drink risking dehydration. You'll need to monitor your child's water intake to ensure they are hydrated.

Natural Treatments (Natural Remedies)
Healthy nutrition can help minimize cold sores. Eat unprocessed foods (vegetables, fruits, and whole grains). Alcohol, caffeine, sugary and salty foods, and highly processed foods should be avoided.

A lack of lysine is believed to contribute to outbreaks. It has been recommended that people take a lysine (L-Lysine) supplement of 1,000mg three times a day for the duration of a cold sore outbreak. Further normal daily regimen would include 500mg daily of lysine to help prevent future occurrences.

Foods that naturally contain lots of lysine include many vegetables, beans, fish, turkey, and chicken, beef, pork, chicken, turkey, cheese (especially Parmesan), certain fish (cod, sardines, etc.), nuts, eggs, spirulina, and fenugreek seed.

Amino acid arginine is thought to aggravate this problem and thus should be reduced. Foods high in arginine are chocolate, peanuts, cola, coffee, regular teas, sugar, nuts, gelatin, alcoholic beverages, peas, carob, chick peas, soy beans, wheat, coconut, tomatoes, mushrooms, eggplants, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, brown rice, oats (oatmeal), popcorn and white flour (a.k.a. refined flour or enriched flour). These types of foods should be reduced overall.

However you'll note that some healthy foods were included such as oats, wheat, peas, and two types of seeds. If you eliminate as much as possible the poorly nutritional foods such as cola, products containing lots of sugar, white flour, and alcohol, that should help balance out the ratio of lysine to arginine in the body. Adding in the lysine supplement will definitely help.

More natural treatments include:

  • Vitamin C and bioflavonoids shorten the cold sore outbreak duration and reduce the number of sores.
  • The vitamin B complex includes "B" vitamins that support the nervous system where herpes viruses reside dormant. B complex vitamins can also help manage stress, a factor causing outbreaks.
  • Applying the oil in vitamin E capsules directly to cold sores may reduce pain and/or itch.
  • Zinc lozenges strengthen the immune system to fight the viruses. Do not take more than the recommended dosages of Zinc remedies as this can negate the effect.
  • Ointments containing lemon balm or licorice and peppermint have been shown to help cold sores heal.

Pharmaceutical / OTC Drug Treatments
A medical cure does not exist to cure the cold virus. There are drugs that will minimize the symptoms and help prevent future break-outs or minimize the frequency of recurrence.

Acyclovir (known as Zovirax) helps with the herpes infection taken via injection or orally. Application as an ointment is not as effective.

Wash the area with sores once or twice a day with soapy water and gently dry. Over-the-counter lip products may help relieve the pain. One such product is Abreva and contains Docosanol to help prevent the virus from spreading to other areas on the face. It may help speed up recovery.

Minimizing The Spread of Infections
It's difficult to prevent the spread of the virus that causes cold sores since many people are not aware that they are infected or do not understand the problem. To help minimize cold sores and the spreading of them to other people, do as much of the following as possible:
  • Minimize sun exposure to the face. A half hour or more constitutes long exposure. If you know you are going to be exposed at length to the sun, apply a safe to use sunscreen to the face, especially to the lips. Beware that many sunscreens including popular brands are known to increase your chances of cancer. Wearing a hat with a large brim is also helpful.
  • Resist touching or picking at the sores. Doing so may spread the virus around the lips or face and infecting more areas.
  • People with cold sores should wash their hands carefully and frequently to avoid spreading the virus.
  • Avoid contact with others during active infection and avoid kissing or sexual contact with others until after the cold sores have healed.
  • If you don't have the virus, wear gloves when applying ointment to a child's sore.
  • People with the herpes virus should never kiss the eyes or lips of a baby who is under six months old.
  • Do not allow infected children to share toys that may be put into the mouth. If a toy has been put into the mouth of a child with the infection, disinfect the toy before other children play with it.
  • Following good nutrition, getting enough sleep, and doing exercise will help minimize getting sick. Sickness can activate cold sores. A healthy body can better fight off occurrences of cold sores too.

Author: Curt Dunmire
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About Author: Curt Dunmire is the publisher, director and owner of; an avid researcher within the health and fitness industry, helping people to live healthier happier lives. He is also a Webmaster since 1996 and has served as a full-time CAD drafter at a major corporation in past years.
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Differences Between Viruses and Bacteria

Viruses and bacteria are not the same type of infection. Bacteria function independently from the host body and usually reproduce on their own. Viruses invade human cells and convert the cells into virus-making factories. After a horde of new viruses are created, the infected human cell is usually destroyed turning loose these new viruses. This virus life cycle causes tissue damage resulting in various body reactions (in this case cold sores).

A virus may simply hide inside the cell (called latency) instead of converting it to a virus factory (the herpes virus will hide in the nervous system). A latent virus may lie dormant for days, months, or even years. After latency the virus awakens and forces the cell to produce thousands of new viruses that cause a new infection.

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