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Fever blisters are caused by the herpes simplex virus. While herpes simplex virus type 1 is largely responsible for it, herpes virus type 2 may also cause the infection.
These viruses live on nerve ganglions, which are a bundle of nerves on the side of the face. From there, the viruses may infect the tissue around your lips and cause an outbreak. You may harbor the virus in your childhood and only develop symptoms at an older age.
Medical treatment is available for fever blisters, and you can also try home remedies and self-care measures that can help manage the condition at home.
Home Remedies for Fever Blisters to Aid Recovery
The following are some home remedies that you can use to promote healing of fever blisters.
Caution: Conduct a patch test to rule out any allergies or sensitivity reactions.
1. Apply a cool compress
Applying a cool compress can help reduce the pain, swelling, and redness associated with fever blisters. It is best to use a cold compress at the initial appearance of the symptoms – that is, when tenderness and tingling around the lip first occur.
How to use:
Place a cold compress on the affected area for 10–15 minutes. You can use ice cubes wrapped in a cotton cloth, a packet of frozen peas or corns, or ice gel packs for this purpose.
2. Try kanuka honey
Medical-grade kanuka honey is as effective as 5% acyclovir cream in the treatment of fever blisters. (1)
How to use:
- Dab some medical-grade kanuka honey on the fever blisters.
- Leave it on for 5–7 minutes before washing it off.
3. Take echinacea supplements or tea
Studies have shown that the polysaccharides, (2) alkenes, and amides (3) in echinacea can help prevent recurrence of infection.
How to use:
Consume echinacea tea or supplements upon consulting with your doctor.
4. Apply licorice root
Glycyrrhizin, the active compound of licorice root, exhibits anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties that can help control a herpes simplex virus infection. (4)(5)
How to use:
- Mix 1 tablespoon of licorice root powder with ½ teaspoon of water to form a thick paste.
- Apply the paste to the affected areas using a cotton swab.
- Rinse it off after a few minutes.
5. Use aloe vera gel
Aloe vera has been shown to help control the growth of human herpes simplex virus type 2. (6)
How to use:
It is suggested to use medicated gels available in the market as fresh, pure aloe vera gel may not be effective.
6. Use propolis extract
Propolis extracts contain flavonoids, phenyl carboxylic acids, and polyphenols that act as antivirals against HSV-2. (7) Moreover, it has been seen that propolis extracts may be as effective as acyclovir and may show synergistic effects when used together. (8)
How to use:
Consult your doctor on the use of topical creams containing 3% propolis.
Following some self-care measures during the treatment of the infection can promote fast recovery, avoid skin damage, and prevent recurrent episodes of fever blisters.
Here’s what you can do:
1. Protect your skin from the sun
The harmful UV rays of the sun can delay skin healing or recovery and even activate dormant viruses, resulting in another outbreak. Therefore, it is vital to prevent sun exposure.
You can use broad-spectrum lip balms, gels, and ointments with SPF 30 or higher on your lips and mouths, especially in summer. (9) It is also suggested to use sunscreens with zinc or titanium oxide as they are highly effective.
2. Maintain personal hygiene
Make sure to wash your hands using soap and water before touching the sores or applying any medicated ointment. In addition, avoid sharing your toiletries, cutlery, or makeup with anyone else.
3. Avoid contact with others
Since the infection can spread through skin-to-skin contact, refrain from coming in close contact with anyone else.
4. Refrain from picking the sores
Avoid picking or popping the sores or scabs as it increases the risk of spreading infection via your hands.
5. Improve your diet
Avoid consuming spicy, tangy, hot, acidic, or salty foods as they can irritate the cold sores. Instead, eat cold, soft foods, and include fruit juice and vegetable-based beverages in your diet.
In addition, consume antioxidant-rich foods such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and kale. Also, eat foods high in zinc, vitamin E, vitamin C, and selenium as they provide antiviral properties. (10) However, avoid consuming foods rich in arginine.
6. Manage stress
Stress can trigger the onset of fever blisters. (11) You can perform meditation, yoga, cardio exercises, and Tai chi to help control mild to moderate stress.
Most-Asked Questions About Fever Blisters
Can diluted apple cider vinegar, rubbing alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide help treat fever blisters?
Experts highly suggest against the use of these substances on the sores as it can exacerbate them.
Are lysine supplements or ointments useful in the treatment of fever blisters?
Study results on the use of lysine for treating cold sores are contradictory, with some studies suggesting its usefulness in controlling the viral growth and others saying that it is highly ineffective. Therefore, it is best to use lysine ointments only upon consulting your doctor.
Fever blisters, or cold sores, are caused by infection of the facial nerves with human herpes simplex viral strains. It is vital to treat fever blisters at the earliest using antiviral medications to prevent recurrence or complications.
Mild to moderate fever blisters generally improve on their own, but the use of home remedies can aid recovery and skin healing. However, before using any of these remedies, it is vital to get a proper diagnosis and treatment for your cold sores as the problem is often recurrent and can easily spread to any part of the body.Continue ReadingWhat Causes Fever Blisters and How to Treat Them
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