Cold sores are inconvenient and uncomfortable. If you’ve had cold sores before, it is likely that you recognize the tingling feeling that precedes those pesky blisters poking through the skin.

Once you pick up the virus that causes these unsightly sores, it can lay dormant underneath the skin until stress, an illness or a hormonal change triggers the release of unsightly blisters.

How do cold sores develop?

Cold sores, otherwise known as fever blisters, are a common viral infection. These tiny, fluid-filled blisters usually group together on and around your lips. After these blisters break, a crust forms around the affected area that usually clears up within two to four weeks. They can spread from person to person by close contact or by kissing. While there is no cure for this type of viral infection, it can be treated with antiviral medication and a combination of cold sores remedies that effectively drive it dormant once more. These sores are usually caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1, which is not to be confused with type 2, a type of sore that develops due to skin to skin, sexual contact. While type 1 sores can be caused through skin to skin contact as well, treatment of this uncomfortable condition can be easily treated if caught early. Herpes simplex can clear up on its own between two to four weeks, but there are interventions that you can take to shorten healing time and improve the look and feel of your skin in less time.

Signs and symptoms:

This type of viral infection usually passes through three stages:

1. Tingling and itching–many people report painful tingling, burning, and itching sensations a day or two before hard, fluid-filled blisters appear on and around the lips.

2. Blisters–Blisters usually break out around the border where the outline of the lips meet the skin of the face. These blisters can also form around the nose or on the cheeks, depending on how severe the infection is.

3. Oozing and crusting–Small blisters may ooze and then burst, causing the fluid inside to crust over the affected area. They can last from a few days to several weeks depending on the type of care you undergo to treat them.

During first time outbreaks, people may also report fevers, gum erosion, sore throat and headache. In severe cases, muscle aches, pains, and swollen lymph nodes may also cause uncomfortable problems as well. If you find yourself experiencing any of the above symptoms, consider adding your doctor to determine the cause of the infection and to form a plan for treatment that will lessen your discomfort and shorten healing time. While these sores are not a life threatening condition, they could be an indication of a more acute health problem that s present in the body; it is best to get the opinion of a qualified medical professional in order to create an effective plan for treatment.

Follow these cold sores remedies for clean and clear skin once more:

Catch them early

This development is not to be treated as a “wait and see” condition–early diagnosis is key to putting the brakes on their arrival. You can prevent them from fully developing by recognizing the symptoms that begin to pop up, then following treatment protocols to reduce or eliminate these breakouts. Be on the lookout for the “prodromal stage”, which can include itchiness, inflammation, tingling and soreness where breakouts are prone to occur. If you suspect that something is amiss, call your doctor immediately to discuss options for treatment.

Use an antiviral treatment

No topical over-the-counter cream or ointment is going to work as effectively as a prescription anti-viral treatment, plain and simple. Taking 2000 mg by mouth twice daily as directed by your doctor is the best way to treat the existing virus and prevent its spread throughout other areas of the body. This replication prevention will reduce the time that blisters will appear on your body or even prevent them from developing in the first place.

Add a steroid cream to your regimen

Of all the possible cold sore remedies that are available, a steroid cream is one of the best ways to reduce inflammation quickly and efficiently. Pain, redness, and irritation are lessened, allowing the skin to calm and heal while powerful agents in the steroid cream go to work soothing and repairing sensitive tissue. Please note, a steroid cream is only to be used in combination with an antiviral medication; use of one without the other will actually have adverse effects on the spread of the virus. Use as directed by your doctor for the best results.

Make a home remedy

Most drugstores sell an over-the-counter powder called Domeboro, effective at combatting skin irritation and redness. Dissolve tablets or powder packet in 12-16 ounces of water. It’s okay if there is some residue at the bottom of the glass; the remedy will still be effective. Take a thin piece of linen or cloth, dunk it in the solution, then hold it to the affected area for 10-15 minutes, continuing to soak the cloth as needed. The solution in the Domeboro will dry out the blisters and cause them to scab over, reducing healing time from a couple of weeks to mere days. Once the affected area is dried out, apply an antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin to prevent infection and heal the skin more efficiently.

Use cold compresses

Reduce any redness and swelling that comes up with a cool, wet compress. Using cold therapy for 5-10 minutes a couple of times daily will help address some of the unsightliness of blisters and sores.

Stop touching them!

One of the most effective cold sores remedies that you can engage in is to refrain from touching them—at all! It can be very tempting to pick at those fluid filled blisters, but popping them is the last thing you should do, as this tends to spread infection to other areas of the face and body. In addition, picking at sores will inevitably lead to scarring, so if you want skin to heal completely, do your best to leave blisters alone and deal with them in more gentle ways.

Identify your causes of infection

Part of treatment with cold sores remedies should be identifying causes of your infection so as not to repeat the same cycle of breakout, treatment, etc. If you are naturally prone to the development of cold sores, just know that that particular virus is hiding out in your skin, and it is likely to come out when you are excessively tired, sick, or stressed. Sun can be a major factor in producing outbreaks as well, as the delicate moisture balance of skin is disrupted. If you find that you skin and outbreaks worsen with increased time in the sun, find yourself a good sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, and make sure to clean skin thoroughly after application when you no longer need it.

Use aloe vera to soothe skin

While aloe vera is not instantly effective, regular application of aloe vera to breakout-prone areas will soothe angry cold sores and prevent future flare ups. Aloe vera is an effective pain reducer as well; because it contains vitamins C, E, and A, it is known to help expedite the healing process.

cold sores

Avoid acidic or overly spicy foods

While you are undergoing a plethora of cold sores remedies, it’s best to lay off the hot sauce for awhile. Try your best to avoid hot and spicy foods, especially if your cold sores haven’t dried out and scabbed over yet. Acidic foods like pineapple, tomatoes, citrus fruits, and vinegar-based sauces tend to aggravate cold sore breakouts; do your best to avoid them at this time, or at least until your healing is well underway.

Do what you can to reduce your stress

The number one thing that can cause a cold sore breakout is stress; how on earth are we supposed to lower our stress levels in today’s world of chaos and upheaval? Believe it or not, there are some simple things you can do right now to lower your stress, improve your mood, and even improve your quality of sleep, which makes everything better! Make these a regular part of your practice and you’ll be on your way to better health and more beautiful skin:

  • Just breathe….simple slow breaths until you feel yourself calm down
  • Cross small things off your to do list, one small thing at a time
  • Get some exercise as a proven mood booster
  • Practice gratitude for everything in your life
  • Watch a funny or inspirational video to keep you energized
  • Check out for a while with a good puzzle or book
  • Meditate; get in touch with your true self and your true feelings

Following just a few of these practices, each day will do wonders for your stress level and lower your chances of additional breakouts and infections that you can’t control.

Painful and unsightly sores might be an inconvenience, but they are not a reason to experience additional emotional distress when you spot an outbreak. Use these simple and effective strategies to ensure that any breakouts stay manageable and heal up quickly. In no time at all, you’ll be sporting clean and clear skin once more!