The Positive Side of Medicine

All About Cold Sores

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All About Cold Sores

Cold sores, or herpetic lesions, are caused by Herpes Simplex 1 or 2, HSV 1 is associated with facial sores, HSV 2 with genital sores, either infection can leave sores in either place. HSV can be spread by sharing eating utensils, razors, towels, and kissing. Genital herpes can be spread to the face by oral sex, which can also spread a facial lesion to the genital area.

Once you have HSV it lies dormant and can emerge again at or near the original site. Some things that trigger reappearance of sores are fever, menstruation, stress, fatigue, and sun exposure.

According to Mayo Clinic 90% of adults worldwide test positive for the virus, even if they have never had an active sore. Some of the risk factors include HIV/AIDS, eczema, severe burns, cancer chemotherapy, and anti-rejection drugs after organ transplants.

Treatment Options:

Common remedies for cold sores include prescription drugs like Valtrex and Pyralvex, or prescription ointments like Zovirax, to many OTC remedies, to home remedies. Most have in common pain relieving properties and germ killing abilities.

Cold Sore Cycles

OTC remedies such as Abreva, Releeva, Carmex, Viroxyn, Blistex, and Burt’s Bees are also popular and effective, as are oral L-Lysine and vitamin supplements.

Natural Treatments:

  • Cerumen, or ear wax, has been used in medicine since the first century, and is listed in De Medica by Aculus Cornelius Celsus. Cerumen protects the ears from bacteria and fungi, insects, and water, therefore it has the antibacterial and antifungal properties needed.
  • Tea bags from black tea contain tannin, which can ease irritation and speed healing time.

  • You can put apple cider vinegar on a Q-Tip and place directly to sore 3-4 times/day until healed.


  • People also use tea tree oil, white toothpaste, Preparation H, salt, cologne, aloe vera plant, garlic, Vitamin E, oregano oil, coconut oil, peppermint oil, maleleuca oil, hydrogen peroxide, zinc oxide, Liquid B12, Vicks rub, anusol, orajel, and campho-phenique. Anything with drying properties will dry up a cold sore, these remedies also cause quite a bit of pain. Anything with pain relieving and antibiotic properties will heal slower, but will feel better as you heal.


Cold sores are a painful, and common, part of life. If you have one please wash your hands well, and often, especially after treatment of sores or touching your face. Don’t put make-up on them, make-up is usually a breeding ground for bacteria, you want to kill it, not make more. Try what sounds good to you and your pocketbook, we are very interested in hearing how your remedies perform.


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