23 February 2017

Debunking Cold Sore Myths


If you've ever had a cold sore, you know that tingle.  That little itchy feeling you get along your lip that can only mean one thing: 10 days of pain and embarrassment.  Don't wait until you get a full-blown cold sore to start treatment.  For the fastest relief, start treatment at the very first tingle to shorten the duration.

I used to get so embarrassed when I would get a cold sore. I felt like everyone was staring at my lip and didn't see me. In reality, they probably didn't even notice it. If they did, they've probably had one themselves. It's important to stay confident while you have a cold sore, and it's important to treat it properly. Let's talk today about debunking cold sore myths.

cold sore myths

What Are Cold Sores?

Cold sores are very common; 67 percent of people under the age of 50 have the virus that causes them (source).  Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV1) is highly contagious, so it spreads quickly from person to person.  During a cold sore outbreak, you'll notice a blister near your lips that can fill with fluid.  The blister can break open, ooze, and then crust back over.  A cold sore usually lasts between seven and ten days, and you can be in extreme pain during the entire time.  After an outbreak, the virus lies dormant until your next outbreak.

Often, an outbreak is triggered by something.  It could be stress, getting sick, hormones, or even sun exposure.  I used to get cold sores fairly often when I was in college because I was so stressed out all the time.  Now that my stress levels have gone down, I get one every few years at the most.
When I do get one, I don't want to suffer in pain and embarrassment for a week.  I use Abreva® because it's the only medicine FDA approved to shorten the healing time of your cold sore.  When used at the first sign, Abreva® can heal a cold sore in 2 ½ days.*

While you're waiting for it to heal, you can hide a cold sore with makeup.

Debunking Cold Sore Myths

There are a lot of cold sore myths floating around the Internet.  I've heard that vinegar, lemon essential oil, tea bags, ice, aloe vera, and zinc oxide can all help reduce the length of cold sores.  I use vinegar to clean my house and cook with, but I don't want it near my lips unless I'm eating a pickle!

Another popular cold sore myth is that lysine can help reduce cold sores.  This amino acid is taken orally as a supplement to supposedly stop flare-ups and speed up healing time, but it has never been proven.

Alcohol and witch hazel are said to dry out your cold sore, causing it to heal faster.  They are drying, which is why you probably don't want them near your lips.  If you've ever found yourself with lips that are always dry even after using lip balm, it probably has alcohol that is drying out your lips.  Regardless, they won't heal your cold sore.

Camphor, phenol, and menthol are common ingredients in lip balms for cold sores.  These ingredients are soothing and might make your lips feel better, but they haven't been proven to do anything to heal a cold sore.

Ice can also help you temporarily relieve pain and swelling, but, again, it won't really lessen your cold sore time.

These cold sore home remedies may provide temporary relief, but they won't heal your cold sore.  As of this writing, no home remedies or over the counter treatments for cold sore have been proven to heal except for Abreva®.  In fact, when used at the first tingle of a cold sore, Abreva® can heal the blemish is just 2 ½ days.*

* Median Healing Time 4.1 days.  25% of users healed in 2.5 days.

Have you ever had a cold sore?  Tell me in the comments below to enter to win a $100 Visa gift card!

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Cari Dunn
Cari Dunn

Cari lives on a small farm in Ohio with her husband, three kids, two dogs, two cats, five goats, several chickens, and homing pigeons. She loves Gilmore Girls, coffee, and her kids. Not in that order.