If you’ve ever had a cold sore, you know the signs. It starts with the tingling, then the edge of your lip or the corner of your mouth begins to burn. Then the outbreak: An ugly red sore appears. A few days later it breaks open and crusts over.

Within 2-4 weeks, it should disappear. Cold sores, or fever blisters, are caused by a virus and have no cure. When you feel one budding, you want to get rid of it, fast.

Causes of Cold Sores.
Cold sores are caused by a common virus called herpes simplex. Most people get exposed to the virus when they’re babies or children. There’s no cure for it. Once you’ve been exposed to it, it’s always in your system, even if it doesn’t often cause cold sores or other symptoms.

Herpes simplex is spread by close contact. If you kiss someone with a cold sore, or you touch their face and then touch your own face, you can catch the virus. You can also get herpes simplex by sharing lip balm, a fork, a mug or a razor with someone who has it.

You’re most likely to get the virus from someone who has an active cold sore, but it’s also possible to contract it from someone who doesn’t have a sore or blister showing.

How to Treat Cold Sores.
There are many that you can do at home to soothe the sting of a cold sore, such as:
Ice. You can numb the pain if you apply a cold compress to the sore. Don’t put ice directly on your skin -- that could damage it.

Pain relievers. When a cold sore really stings, you may get some relief from an over-the-counter painkiller like acetaminophen.

Over-the-counter creams. There are products available at the drugstore that can help reduce the pain of a cold sore or help keep the skin soft while it heals.

Prescription drugs. Because cold sores are caused by a virus, doctors may suggest an antiviral medication to help you heal more quickly. The antiviral drugs used to treat cold sores include acyclovir (Zovirax), valacyclovir (Valtrex), famciclovir (Famvir), and penciclovir (Denavir).
Sunscreen. Getting a sunburn may trigger a cold sore. Using sunscreen when you’re out in the sun may prevent it.

Aloe vera gel. The same gel used for sunburn may help a cold sore to heal. Lab research has shown the gel may help fight viruses, including herpes simplex.

Lysine. This supplement may be used sometimes to treat cold sores. It comes in a cream or in capsule form.

Propolis. This is a resin-like material made by bees from the buds of poplar and cone-bearing trees. It may be used like an ointment to treat cold sores.

Lemon balm. Some research has shown that lemon balm extract can help cold sores get better, too.

Tea tree oil. Some research has shown that this strong-smelling oil helps a cold sore heal more quickly.

Peppermint oil. Research has found that peppermint oil is effective at fighting cold sores.

Vitamin C and vitamin E. Both of these vitamins have been shown to fight cold sores. Studies have shown that vitamin C can inactivate the herpes simplex virus, the virus that causes cold sores. Other research has shown that vitamin E can help heal cold sores.

Stress reduction. Taking steps to lower your stress levels may help ward off cold sores. Try meditation or deep breathing exercises.

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