Cold sores can start with a tingling feeling close to the edge of your lip or at the corner of your mouth. Then you usually feel a burning sensation and then little red sores begin to appear. The sores will then begin crusting. It can be a nasty sight.

Cold sores don’t just occur on the outer part of your mouth. They can also occur on the inside in which case you will feel some pain and white splotches will begin to appear inside the mouth. While the name “cold” may suggest that they may be largely a harmless lesion, they usually are not. A budding cold sore may not warrant the doctor’s appointment. There are various home remedies and interventions that you can use to alleviate the pain and also make the sores appear a little “nicer” as they begin to heal.

What causes cold sores?

The cold sores are caused by a common virus that is known as herpes simplex labialis. You can be exposed to this virus as early as in your infancy and since it is incurable, it will remain in your system throughout your life. Normally, the virus will not even cause cold sores and other associated symptoms.

How does the virus spread?

It spreads mainly through close contact. You can contract the herpes simplex virus when you kiss someone that has the virus or touch the face of someone with the virus and then your own face afterwards without washing your hands.
The virus can also be contracted by sharing items such as lip balms, razors, mugs or a fork. If someone has an active cold sore, you are more likely to contract the herpes simplex virus from them although it is still possible to contract it from someone who has the virus lying dormant in their bodies. Outbreaks usually occur and then disappear as the virus goes dormant in your body.

What are some of the main triggers for outbreaks of cold sores?

These include the following:
• Stress
• Exposure to too much sun
• Fever
• Illness or a cold
• Trauma as a result of recent dental work
• Anything that compromises the immune system such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
• Food allergies
• Pregnancy

How to Manage and Cure Cold Sores

There are various interventions that you can undertake to manage and treat cold sores. These include the following:
• Apply ice: A cold compress will help numb the pain. However, avoid putting ice directly on the skin as it is likely to damage the skin surface.
• Use pain relievers: This is a management solution. Buy over-the-counter pain relievers to manage the pain.
• Use OTC creams: There are over-the-counter creams that can be used to alleviate the pain from the cold sores or to keep the skin soft during the healing process.
• Use aloe vera gel: Aloe vera gel is usually used for sunburns and may also help your skin to heal.
• Avoid cold sore triggers: Take note of the main triggers listed above and avoid them to be on the safe side. Limiting your exposure to the triggers may also reduce the severity of the cold sores.
• Avoid touching them: Avoid picking your cold sores as you may end up spreading them to other parts of your body. If you have cold sores, you should avoid touching your mouth and make sure you wash your hands more often.