Fever blisters, also known as cold sores, are caused by the herpes simplex virus and are highly contagious. Anyone with a supressed immune system, such as the elderly, infants, cancer patients, HIV/AIDS patients and so forth – is susceptible. Infection is most commonly through direct contact such as sharing eating utensils, razors or towels.
The areas affected include:
- On the lips (not inside the mouth)
- Occasionally around the nostrils, or on the chin or fingers.
- Rarely on the gums / roof of the mouth (but never the soft cheek tissue inside of the mouth.
The symptoms are as follows:
- begin as a series of tiny blisters
- blistering is sometimes preceded by a localized sensation of tingling, itching, or pain
- the painful blisters will develop, ie. spread, open and weep
- eventually yellowish crust will form and harden
- the crust will slough off, leaving pinkish, possibly sensitive skin
Luckily a cold sore alone will not cause scaring – unless another germ is introduced, so it is especially important not to touch or pick at the area. What is important to note is that even once the blister has healed the herpes virus lives on dormant in the nerve cells in and around the initial site of infection. It is particularly important to avoid retriggering the infection; this is most commonly caused by stress, a lowered immune system, menstruation and exhaustion. Also sun exposure, sunburn and wind exposure can exacerbate the area and cause a reoccurrence.
There are a few creams/gels on the market that have proven helpful:
- One of the best on the market is a combination of l-Lysine, lemon balm, olive leaf, tea tree oil, myrrh, zinc, copper, camphor and eucalyptus oil – which has proven especially soothing, but also helps to prevent future outbreaks if used prior to or during exposure to sun and wind.
- The alternative is to look out for creams containing the amino acid lysine, which can be applied directly to the cold sore and can help soothe and prevent reoccurrence.
- Good old fashioned plain aloe vera gel can provide quick relief from the pain of a cold sore once it blisters, but aloe gel is also a natural anti-bacterial.
The last resort, if you are prone to fever blisters regularly is supplementation. Please consult your healthcare practitioner or you GP before commencing any supplementation.
- The first supplement is L-lysine, which can reduce the frequency of attacks in some people. The recommended dosage is usually 500-1,000 milligrams a day, on an empty stomach, i.e. in between meals. Please consult your GP or healthcare practitioner first.
- The second supplement is Echinacea. Echinacea helps to boost the immune system and this bolstering effect may help to prevent the reoccurrence of the blisters. The recommended dose is usually 400mg daily. Please consult your GP or healthcare practitioner first.
- The third supplement is Vitamin C. Firstly double up on your daily dosage of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a natural immune booster. The recommended dosage is usually between 1000-3000mg per day, in divided doses. Please consult your GP or healthcare practitioner first.
Lifestyle and dietary changes:
- Toss your toothbrush – after the blister has formed and again once it has cleared. Also replace any other item such as razor blades which may have come in contact with the affected area.
- Resist touching the sore, as this can cause a bacterial infection, and even more worryingly they are highly contagious and you do not want to infect your nose or eyes,
- Load up on vitamins E and C rich foods like: red berries, kiwi, broccoli, tomatoes, red and green bell peppers, spinach, and include nuts, leafy green vegetables, whole grain and avocados.
Cold sores are literally a pain, but there are effective natural remedies to help soothe the area during an outbreak, as well as a number of dietary, supplemental and lifestyle changes that may aid in the longer term prevention of reoccurring infections. Please consult your healthcare practitioner or you GP before commencing any supplementation.
About The Author:
After eight years in the retail side of the health industry, much accumulation of knowledge and information I changed industries completely and gone back to my graphic design roots. I still wish to help inform people on natural alternatives, as well as help people when they are choosing to use natural alternatives to treat disorders, diseases and distresses.
(Read more posts by Charlie)