March 25, 2024

Is that a Cold Sore? Don’t Panic – Practical Tips for Management

Posted by Health Hispanica
Woman touching red spot on her lip

Have you ever caught a glimpse of yourself in the mirror only to notice an unexpected tiny bump on your lip? Cold sores, those common nuisances, can appear at the most inconvenient times. Affecting both adults and children, these viral blisters are nothing to be ashamed of, even though they might feel like glaring lip pimples for all to see. Understanding cold sores not only empowers you to address them confidently but also equips you with strategies for effective management.

What Are Cold Sores?

Cold sores are tiny fluid-filled blisters that appear on the lips, cheeks, chin, or nostrils. Also referred to as fever blisters, cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1 and sometimes HSV-2). Cold sores spread through saliva or close contact. So, the main ways of spreading include kissing or sharing things that may touch the mouth, such as utensils, straws, chapstick, or towels. 

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Cold Sores

Cold sores usually start with a tingle or an itch and then boom - a cluster of blisters. These small bumps are generally hard and painful. They tend to burst and leave sores that crust over in the final healing phase. Cold sores last anywhere from 10 days to 3 weeks before completely healing.

First-Time Cold Sore Outbreaks

First-time cold sores may act a little differently. For starters, they may not appear for up to 20 days after you’ve been exposed to the virus. A first-time outbreak may also include more severe symptoms such as:

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Sore gums
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Muscle aches

Recurring Cold Sores

Once you’ve had a cold sore, the herpes virus stays dormant in the body and can reemerge when you least expect it. You don’t have to come into contact with the virus for a new cold sore to appear. Once infected, cold sores may be triggered by:

  • Stress
  • Viral infections
  • Hormonal changes
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Shifts in the immune system
  • Exposure to sun or wind
  • Injury to the skin

What’s the difference between cold sores and canker sores?

Cold sores are viral, highly contagious, and live on the outside of the mouth, whereas canker sores form inside the mouth and are not contagious. Canker sores are painful and may make it difficult to talk and eat. They usually clear up on their own in 1-2 weeks. 

Many theories exist about what causes canker sores, from accidental bites to eating acidic food. Some believe canker sores can result from stress or a poor immune system. Some studies indicate that vitamin and mineral deficiencies – such as folic acid, zinc, and iron - may lead to canker sores in the mouth.

Myth Busting – Cold Sores Edition

  • Cold sores and canker sores are the same thing. Nope, they're as different as cats and dogs—one lives mostly outside, and the other prefers the cozy indoors. Plus, they are two different species.
  • Cold sores are a sign of poor hygiene. Wrong. They're viral and have nothing to do with hygiene. Blaming cold sores on poor hygiene is like blaming the weather on your mood—irrelevant and unhelpful.
  • You can only catch cold sores through kissing. Not true, but maybe don't share that lip balm. Or that fork. Or, really, anything that goes near your mouth.
  • Putting toothpaste on a cold sore heals it. This is an old wives’ tale that hasn’t been proven effective. Unless your toothpaste is made of magic, it's likely just going to make you minty, not cure you.
  • You can't get cold sores again once you've had them. Unfortunately, HSV is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s the house guest that never leaves, just hides in the basement.
  • Eating garlic cures cold sores instantly. If that were true, Italian restaurants would be the ultimate cold sore clinics. However, garlic’s antiviral properties may be effective if used topically.
  • Canker sores mean you're a great kisser. If only our romantic skills were judged by our mouth sores. Can you imagine the photos on dating apps?

Natural Supplements and Remedies for Cold Sores

Several supplements and natural remedies can support the body in fighting off the viruses that cause cold sores. Check out our top recommendations:

Canker-S™: promotes oral health, the immune system, and relief from cold sores and canker sores. A combination of B vitamins, vitamin C, zinc, L-lysine, aloe, and deglycyrrhizinated licorice help inhibit the growth of bacteria and viruses and support white blood cells in fighting infections.

Polybiotic™: supports the immune system to prevent outbreaks with a powerful blend of echinacea, goldenseal, pau d’arco, grapefruit seed extract, and vitamin C.

L-lysine: supports the immune system in fighting the HSV virus that causes cold sores. L-lysine is an essential amino acid that must be consumed in food or supplements. Taking L-lysine helps the body produce infection-fighting antibodies and has strong antioxidant activity.

Cold sores and canker sores might be a nuisance, but they're hardly the end of the world. With a bit of care, prevention, and natural supplements, they don't have to be more than a temporary inconvenience. So, when you feel that familiar tingle or spot a new bump, take it in stride – you are not alone. And if you find another remedy that sends those sores packing, be sure to write in and share the wealth. Sharing is caring when it comes to natural approaches to health and wellness. 

Your Hispanic American Health Store

Health Hispanica® is a Hispanic-American health store specializing in supplements from Hispanic-American-owned brands such as Natura-Genics® and Yerba Farma®. We strive to provide quality and innovative supplements at fair prices and educate our clients and community on healthy living.

The statements above have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Credits

Photo: © pixelshot via Canva.com

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