"How do you get rid of a cold sore?" is a question asked by thousands of people every day. In fact, many people bypass pages of online information about the causes of cold sores just to get the answer. That's a mistake. Because understanding what causes your symptoms can help you figure out how to get rid of a cold sore.
Cold sores are caused by an extremely contagious virus called herpes simplex, which is contracted through direct contact and lies dormant in your body until activated. Scientists aren't exactly sure what causes cold sores to erupt, but stress, illness and sun exposure are thought to trigger outbreaks.
How to Get Rid of a Cold Sore Fast
Unfortunately, there is no miracle treatment that will get rid of a cold sore immediately. The good news is most cold sores heal on their own in about 10-14 days. If you absolutely can't wait that long, cold sore treatment options are available to help limit the duration or severity of your outbreak. The earlier you treat it, the better chance you'll have of getting rid of a cold sore quickly.
The following cold sore remedies could help you get rid of a cold sore faster:
Topical Ointments -- Many topical medications can be found at your local pharmacy. Lidocaine or benzocaine contain numbing agents to help ease pain. Clinical trials have suggested that docosanol, the active ingredient in Abreva®, may shorten the cold sore's lifespan by approximately one day and may prevent sores from blistering when applied at the first signs of an outbreak. If over-the-counter medications don't work, prescription-strength penciclovir or acyclovir cream might do the trick.
Prescription Medications -- Oral antiviral medications are the pharamacutical industry's answer to how to get rid of a cold sore fast. The drugs acyclovir, famciclovir and valacyclovir may be prescribed to help minimize the duration and occurance of outbreaks.
Cold Compresses -- Appling ice during the first 24 hours not only numbs the pain but may also slow the sore's metabolism and inhibit its growth.
Pain Relievers -- A cold sore may be a side effect of a fever. Curing your fever with over-the-counter pain medications will make it easier to treat any complications from it.
Changes in Your Diet -- Spicy and acidic foods can irritate the area. Eating soft, bland foods during an outbreak can help with healing.
Leaving It Alone -- Avoid touching the sore and keep it clean to prevent irritation and infection. If you can, don't apply makeup near the area.
Help From a Doctor -- Most cold sores do not need professional medical treatment. But if you experience frequent outbreaks, cold sores that last longer than two weeks, extreme pain or eye irritation, contact your doctor.
Focusing on Prevention -- You can reduce the frequency of cold sore outbreaks by limiting the factors that trigger them, such as stress. Wearing sunscreen can reduce your chances of developing cold sores caused by sun exposure. Also, be sure to throw out your toothbrush after an outbreak to prevent the virus from returning.