Cold sores, also called fever sores, are small sores that appear on the lips. They start out as a small red swelling, like a pimple, and grow into a blister-like sore that later breaks open, leaking a clear fluid. A scab then forms, but as it dries it often repeatedly cracks and bleeds, causing pain and discomfort. They can be quite painful and usually take a week or two to heal. Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus, which enters the body though a break in the skin, or via infected fluid like saliva, from contact with another infected person. There is no cure for the virus, which will remain in the body for life, flaring up whenever the immune system is compromised, causing a new cold sore to form. The first indication of a sore starting is normally a tingling, itchy feeling, accompanied by dryness, on the lip. The key to speedy healing is to start treating a cold sore as soon as possible, so being aware is critical. Keeping the lips moisturized and out of the sun can help to prevent a sore from forming. Luckily there are a number of natural remedies that can speed the healing and ease the discomfort of cold sores.
1. Diet for Cold Sores
If you have a cold sore, avoid foods high in the amino acid arginine, which has been found to aggravate cold sores. These include chocolate, white flour (breads, cakes, cookies and pasta), nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts and peanuts), shellfish, sunflower and sesame seeds (and oils), soy and meats (especially turkey, chicken and game). Try to eat more foods containing lysine, which reduces the effect of cold sores. Foods high in lysine include vegetables and fruits (particularly beets, tomatoes, avocados, apples, pears, papaya and mangoes), dairy products (especially hard cheese like cheddar), eggs, lamb and sprouts. You can also consider using lysine supplements and brewer’s yeast.