Many people get cold sores and canker sores, especially when they feel run down. Stress is the biggest trigger for them, but weather changes, especially excessive sunlight, can cause outbreaks. Having a weakened immune system from illness or menstruation are also common triggers. But is there a way to prevent them?
Left alone, these sore will normally last 10 to 14 days, but there are preventative measures you can take that lessen outbreaks, severity and duration. If the bothersome blisters do show up, there are home remedies that may ease your discomfort and help diminish their appearance. You can try a prescription or an over-the-counter medication. We also offer laser treatments in our office to help them heal faster and to lessen recurrences.
Steps you can take include:
- Grab an ice cube. Applying ice directly to the sore can bring the swelling down and provide temporary relief.
- Protect your lips. If you have had an outbreak in the past, you should wear a lip balm with an SPF of 30 at all times, but especially when you are in the sun. Just don’t use the balm stick directly on your lips, or you’ll spread the virus. Use a cotton swab.
- Hands off. If you have a cold sore, don’t touch it. You could spread the virus by touching another part of your body.
- Toss your toothbrush. Throw out your toothbrush after the blister has formed, and toss it once the sore has cleared up. A toothbrush is the perfect vessel to carry the virus, and you can end up triggering an outbreak again if you use the same toothbrush.
- Give lysine a try. Many people say lysine has preventive and healing properties. Lysine is an amino acid that counteracts arginine, a substance in various foods that can trigger cold sores.
- Try antiviral creams. They can reduce the time it takes a cold sore to heal if applied at the first sign of trouble. Docosanol cream (Abreva) is available over the counter. Acyclovir (Zovirax) and penciclovir (Denavir) creams are available by prescription.
- Use a toothpaste that’s free from Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) to treat canker sores. Many toothpastes contain this strong detergent that can strip away the protective lining of your mouth. Studies show it increases canker-sore outbreaks and pain.
- Take a probiotic. Probiotic lozenges for your mouth can suppress harmful bacteria by growing more “friendly” bacteria that block the growth of disease-causing bacteria. This can accelerate the healing of canker sores and other mouth injuries.
Home remedies include:
- Load up on vitamins E and C. Vitamin C has been shown to boost white blood cells, which are the body’s defenders. Vitamin E is great for healing skin.
- Enjoy some vanilla. Vanilla extract, the real, good, pure, vanilla extract, is a natural cold-sore remedy. Because it is alcohol-based, it is hard for the virus to thrive, which can lessen the outbreak’s severity.
- Snag some licorice. Glycyrhizic acid, an ingredient in licorice root, has been shown to stop virus cells in their tracks — or at least counteract the symptoms of them. This is thanks to its anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties.
- Cornstarch paste. Cornstarch neutralizes the pH of the sore by creating an alkaline state. To shorten the duration of a cold sore, whip up a cornstarch paste.
- Get milk. Putting a whole-milk compress on your sore can help speed up healing and ease pain. The reason? Milk contains proteins known as immunoglobulins, or anti-bodies that fight off viruses. Milk also contains l-lysine, which helps inhibit the work of an ammino acid called arginine, shown to cause outbreaks.
- Wipe it out with hydrogen peroxide. This over-the-counter solution can be an effective cold-sore remedy. Dab a little on the cold sore and it disinfects, speeds healing, and makes it hard for the sore to spread or worsen.
At Wynkoop Dental, we also offer an effective way to treat sores through laser therapy.
If you catch a sore in time with laser treatment, you can prevent it from breaking out. As soon as you feel a tingling sensation warning you, schedule an appointment for a laser treatment. If you already have a full-blown sore, the laser will take away some of the discomfort and decrease the duration of the cold sore by about half. If you get sores often, laser treatment can reduce the number you get and how severe they are in the future. Other benefits of using a laser to treat sores include: it’s quick and affordable, destroys the virus, relief is immediate, can be preventative, stops progression and doesn’t require anesthesia.
Call us the next time you or someone you know has a cold sore or canker sore – we will get you sore free in no time!