We can all agree that cold sores, suck!
Anyone that has been in the unfortunate situation of feeling that tingling on their lip and a small bump starting to appear can attest to the sheer terror.
Moreover, cold sores always seem to appear at the worst possible time.
I have had to deal with cold sores at birthdays, New Year holidays, my friend’s week-long wedding celebration, countless dates, first job interviews and everything in between.
My first cold sore outbreak was also the worse one I have had, something that is pretty common apparently.
Here is how my miserable cold sore history starts. I had been helping my family with a summer work project that entailed driving around different camp sites and passing flyers around. After two dozen or so camp-sites and while I was sitting at an uncomfortably hot car, I felt both my lips swell and my whole face was set on fire.
I couldn’t talk.
I couldn’t even breathe.
Within a few hours my lips could have made Kylie Jenner jealous if it wasn’t for the unsightly and oozing sores that had appeared and instantly taken over my face.
After a doctor’s appointment to confirm I wasn’t suffering from some rare disease, I spent 2 weeks taking vitamins, giving my self twice daily salt baths and crying from the pain and discomfort.
In the 15 years since my first cold sore, I have learnt how to deal with these devil spawns while trying every treatment, lip balm, cream and pill there is out there.
As a self-appointed expert on cold sores, here is what has worked on me and what I have learned in order to keep cold sores at bay while working, travelling and living my life.
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If you are a cold sore sufferer you are probably already familiar with the basics.
- They are super common, as in 90% of adults are said to carry the virus.
- They break open, ooze and finish off with an awful crust that lasts for about 7 to 10 days.
- And they are a symptom of the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) which means they are highly contagious and you are stuck with them for life! No kissing, no sharing utensils and no touching other parts of your body.
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Identify Your Triggers — Then Avoid Them Like the Plague
The only way to get rid of a cold sores fast is to not get one in the first place. This is obviously easier said than done but to lead a cold sore free life you need to figure out what your triggers are.
The most common triggers for cold sores are stress, lack of sleep or fatigue, exposure to sun wind or cold, hormonal changes and a weakened immune system.
Next time you have a cold sore outbreak try to think about what could have caused it.
Have you been sleeping late? Overworking yourself? Or maybe the weather changes have given you dry and chapped lips that are prime ground for a cold sore.
It is pretty clear that most of the triggers are linked to unhealthy lifestyle choices and diet. This is
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Be Super Prepared at All Times
While it is true that the only way to get rid of cold sores fast is to avoid them, there is one more window of opportunity to exploit that will help your lips stay clear.
The very very beginning!
This is why it is important to always carry all the necessary “fight these cold sores” equipment with you so that you can attack them straight away.
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What I Use to Get Rid of Cold Sores Fast
These are the products I keep with me at all times that have managed to reduce my last two cold sore outbreaks to just one day! The key is as mentioned to act as soon as you feel that first tingling. From then on the strategy is to contain and soothe the pain and the cold sore will almost always have to go through a full cycle to heal.
Valtrex – Valacyclovir
Valtrex is an antiviral drug that helps treat the virus but not cure it. While it won’t stop you from having recurring outbreaks, my experience is it can contain the virus at the very first stage and stop it.
Valacyclovir can be used by children and adults to treat cold sores around the mouth but is also an option for chickenpox and shingles.
Depending on the country you live in, you might need a prescription to get a hold of Valtrex, so speak to your doctor first. I take the recommended dosage of Valtrex for cold sores as soon as I sense a tingling. You often need to take it just for one day.
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Compeed Cold Sore Patch
These miracle patches are always in my wallet and toiletry bag.
Even if you do manage to take Valtrex straight away, I still use these as the second step.
The patches are semi-discreet depending on how much the cold sore has spread and where it is located. They help by creating a shield that helps reduce contamination in nearby areas and also soothes the pain or tingling.
If you manage to put one on at the very beginning when there is nothing there and take Valtrex, it should be gone by the end of the day. This is the only way I have managed to get rid of cold sores fast!
The only one thing I have noticed with these patches is that they make your mouth dry so don’t forget to drink a lot of water.
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Thieves – Young Living Essential Oil
The Thieves blend is a mix of clove, lemon, cinammon bark, eucalyptus, radiata and rosemary. It is commonly used as a home cleaning product due to its antimicrobial properties.
This is a very strong essential oil and you should always do a patch test before using, but I have found it works best if I dab a very small amount straight on the wound. Yes, it will sting!
You can also add a small drop of this in your lip balm!
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Peppermint Essential Oil – Young Living
In addition to Thieves, I always carry peppermint oil with me to help me fight cold sores. There are some studies that have shown that peppermint oil can calm a cold sore outbreak and it can also help with moisturizing and soothing the sore, however, it won’t heal it.
Peppermint oil has also been found to have antiviral qualities which is why it is commonly added to extracts and teas.
I only use Young Living essential oils as I have found them to be of high quality, but I am not involved in the company as a distributor.
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L-Lysine is an amino acid that is often used to help prevent cold sores. The L-Lysine and arginine debate (another semi-essential amino acid) is probably familiar to people that suffer from cold sores.
Theoretically, a diet high in foods with more lysine such as fish, chicken, milk, cheese, beans and most fruits and lower in foods that are high in arginine such as wheat, oats, flour, coconut and chocolate can help people with viral diseases from experiencing frequent outbreaks.
While the jury is still out on whether this alone can help get rid of cold sores fast, or even help at all, it doesn’t hurt to have them at home.
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Ice Packs and Ice Cubes
Hot vs Cold is a common debate amongst cold sore sufferers. I am strictly on team cold!
While it will not cure a cold sore, it can reduce the duration and ease the discomfort while providing some relief and I have also found it halts the progress which is important if you don’t have anything else at hand.
Just use an ice pack or ice cube on the swollen area and hold it there for as long as you can last. Repeat often during the day!