What causes cold sores? Cold sores are a symptom of infection by the Herpes Simplex Type 1 virus in the human nervous system. This is not as bad as it sounds (gee, that’s reassuring, huh? lol)–no, really, oral herpes is harmless, annoying, but harmless. However, regrettably, the virus will stay in your nervous system forever (although I do cover a ‘cure’ at the end that will ensure you don’t ever get another outbreak).
HOW DO YOU GET EXPOSED TO THE HERPES SIMPLEX VIRUS?
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When you have an ‘infection’ you would normally think that you were recently exposed to the germ that has caused the infection. With cold sores this is not the case. Cold sores are not a sign of a recent infection but instead a reactivation of the herpes virus that is already in your body. Cold sores occur when latent herpes simplex virus particles, which have been lying dormant (”asleep”), become reactivated, or ‘wake up’.
WHERE DID THE HERPES SIMPLEX VIRUS COME FROM IN THE FIRST PLACE?
The dormant virus comes from a previous infection. Your initial herpes simplex infection, which is called “primary herpetic stomatitis,” does not usually immediately cause a cold sore and therefore you may not connect your initial exposure to the virus to the cold sores that you keep getting. Often times, the way you caught the virus was that when you were young a relative kissed you while they had an active outbreak, thereby infecting you with the virus–so now you can thank Aunt or Uncle So-and-So for that kiss of death they gave you at the family reunion when you were 3…
BASIC COLD SORE FIRST AID
Keep the cold sore clean and dry–wash it with a wash cloth and hot soapy water.
Replace your toothbrush-it can harbor the virus for days, reinfecting you after your current cold sore heals.
From an interesting article I recently read:
“Researchers at the University of Oklahoma exposed a sterile toothbrush to the virus for 10 minutes. Seven days later, half of the disease-producing viruses remained, says Richard T. Glass, D.D.S., Ph.D., chairman of the Department of Oral Pathology at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine and College of Dentistry…”
How do you neutralize the infectious toothbrush? Throw it away. Dr. Glass recommends that you throw your toothbrush away when you notice you’re just beginning to get the virus. If you still develop the cold sore, throw your toothbrush away after the blister develops; this can prevent you from getting multiple cold sores. And once the sore has healed completely, replace your toothbrush again. Dr. Glass said that patients of his who tried this found that it cut WAY down on the number of cold sores they usually experienced each year.
TREAT IT WITH ZINC
Several studies have shown that a water-based zinc solution, applied the minute you feel that tingling, helps speed up recovery time.
In a Boston study of 200 patients who were followed over a six-year period, a 0.025 percent solution of zinc sulfate in camphorated water was found very effective. Sores healed in an average of 5.3 days. The solution was applied every 30 to 60 minutes during the onset of the cold sore.
OVER THE COUNTER (OTC) TREATMENTS
Also, topical treatments, such as topical lidocaine or benzyl alcohol (Zilactin), may help alleviate your symptoms.
Don’t drink it–soak a cotton ball in milk and apply it to the cold sore to relieve pain. Better yet, if you feel the telltale tingling before the cold sore appears, go straight to the cold milk–it can help speed healing right from the get-go.
Licorice. Studies have shown that glycyrrhizic acid, an ingredient in licorice, stops the cold sore virus (Herpes Simplex 1) dead. So you can try chewing a licorice whip, just be sure it’s made from real licorice, as most “licorice” candy in the United States today is flavored with anise. If the ingredient list says “licorice mass,” then the product contains real licorice. You could also try buying some licorice powder and sprinkling it on the sore, or mix up a cream with a pinch of licorice power and a little bit of vegetable shortening, then apply to the cold sore.
THE BEST OF COLD SORE HOME REMEDIES
My own experience on cold sore home remedies is with something concocted by a close friend of mine, and even though I’ve never been big on home remedies I must say that this cold sore home treatment worked both times for me, and even more impressive is I’ve seen it work on about 25 other people she’s tried it on, consistently!
Please have a look at my friend Grace’s solution for the matter: