Many people are familiar with that tingly, itchy, tight and painful feeling around the lips in the initial hours leading up to a cold sore. Because this condition is recurring, most sufferers have learned to accept these symptoms of onset and prepare for a few days of painful and unsightly lesions around the mouth. However, with the proper medical guidance from several cold sore specialists, the return of this annoying rash doesn't have to mean 96 more hours of irritation.
Cold sores are the visible result of a virus called herpes libialis, also known as herpes simplex or oral herpes, according to the Mayo Clinic's online disease database -- a resource made available for both research and self-diagnosis purposes. This condition is spread easily through saliva and can be a lifelong affliction. These factors make it one of the most prevalent viral infections in the world, accounting for more than 3 million instances of chronic symptoms per year. The actual cold sore is a small cluster of small, fluid-filled bumps that centralize around a small area on either the upper or lower lip. Additionally, cold sores can appear on or around the tongue in more rare instances.
Although cold sores will almost always disappear within one or two weeks, many sufferers want faster relief and remission of visible symptoms. The condition is usually self-diagnosable, but a trip to your doctor will often provide a confirmation of this diagnosis and a script for prescription medication. However, if a trip to the clinic is not in the cards, or you want to address the problem without drugs, there are several ways to speed up the recovery. The Mayo Clinic recommends some over-the-counter medications such as Docosanol (Abreva) that contain alcohol as a drying agent. Although this will not act on the virus, it will work toward drying up the fluid-filled lesions. If your case of cold sores leaves your lips too dry, HowStuffWorks.com's health resource page recommends applying lip balms or petroleum-based products to ease the cracking and crusting and prevent the influx of new bacteria.
There are also several alternative medicine methods to treating and preventing the outbreak of these symptoms. ColdSoresCured.com recommends upping your intake of the amino acid Lysine. This protein building block is known for its contribution to antiviral metabolic processes and can be purchased from any supplement store. Also, if the alcohol application doesn't work, they advise applying Witch Hazel liquid to a cotton ball and compressing this on the affected area for several minutes. Witch Hazel has highly astringent properties that can quickly dry rashes. Although the disease will be with you for life, there are several ways to help prevent its onset. Many cold sores are brought on by stress. By limiting the stress in your life, using lip balm with sunscreen and avoiding overly spicy foods, Health.com, the online component of Health magazine, promotes avoiding sores before they happen in an article by Karen Pallarito written in 2018. By planning ahead, stocking your medicine cabinet and avoiding triggers, weeklong cold sores can be a thing of the past.