Having to deal with cold sores constantly? Then you’re not alone.
This problem is a widespread one, with over half of the population in the country suffering from it. And even if many people do not develop the symptoms, they generally carry the virus responsible for it.
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), which can cause inflamed blisters in or near the mouth. While there is no cure for this virus, treatment can help alleviate the symptoms, and the sores heal themselves over a couple of weeks.
And while it is possible to speed up this process using various methods which involve the application of certain substances, there are several misconceptions regarding their application. In such cases, using the wrong product can worsen the situation.
That’s why we decided to share this guide answering some of the questions on the subject to bring some clarity. So, let’s get started!
Identifying Cold Sores
Initially, there are no symptoms upon infection by the herpes simplex virus, and the outbreaks only occur after some time has passed. This is why preventing them is nearly impossible. Additionally, the lack of symptoms in the initial stage makes it hard to distinguish a cold sore from a spot, further causing a delay in its treatment.
The first symptoms involve an itching or burning sensation close to the mouth, after which small sores filled with fluid appear in the area. Since this virus is contagious, it can be transmitted from person to person through close contact.
Generally, the virus remains inactive and becomes active occasionally, but this tendency varies depending upon various factors, like injuries, changes in hormone levels, weather conditions, etc.
Using Perfumes Or Aftershave For Healing Cold Sores
Generally, alcohol-containing fragrance products like perfumes and aftershave are effective in drying out cold sores quickly. Alcohol helps the inflamed blisters heal faster, though the other components in such products may be ineffective.
Also, using an aftershave or a perfume can help you get rid of a painful blister more quickly but may cause damage to the skin in certain cases. Alternatively, some people are highly sensitive to fragrances, so this solution might not be the best.
That is why, even though using fragrance products is generally a safe option in most situations, it is recommended to go with over-the-counter medications.
How Do Fragrance Products Work For Drying Out Cold Sores?
Fragrance products like perfume and aftershave work like salt (sodium chloride) or rubbing alcohol. They contain alcohol which effectively draws away moisture from the blister, causing it to start flaking, after which it fades away.
Using fragrance products is a simple solution for drying cold sores but should generally not be used as the primary treatment.
The Best Time For Application Of Aftershave To A Cold Sore
For the quickest and best results, you should apply aftershave or cologne to a cold sore when the blister appears. This is generally when the blister begins to transform into an ulcer before bursting. Application of aftershave or perfume during the ulcer stage can result in a very painful experience.
Similarly, applying it during the scab stage will not be pleasant. Keep in mind that you cannot stop the formation of a blister once the process has started, but with this method, its duration can be reduced. This method can also be used to dry out sores on your lips.
Problems Caused By Drying Out Cold Sores
Since applying fragrance products like aftershave works by drying out the skin, it can lead to some other problems. And one of the most common ones is cracking of the sores. A cracked sore can cause intense pain and expose other areas of the body to the virus or other foreign materials.
Ingredients Responsible For Healing Cold Sores
The most common ingredient in aftershave is SD-alcohol 40, an antiseptic that helps keep the skin cool and prevents irritation while shaving. Apart from helping dry out the sore, this ingredient effectively sterilizes the skin to a certain extent. That is what makes it so effective in reducing the pain that generally accompanies a cold sore.
Fragrances also contain alcohol along with many other chemicals, though most of these chemicals are considered safe. However, people with certain skin conditions or allergies should conduct proper research before selecting an aftershave or perfume.
They should opt for natural products, which are generally safer, though even these have some amount of chemicals present.
Applying Fragrance Products On Lips
Due to a large number of products, each containing a variety of different ingredients, ensuring complete safety is not possible. That said, products that use SD-alcohol 40 are generally safer than most others, though they may not be suitable for all.
One way to find out the ingredients used in a particular product is by checking the labels. This will help you know whether a product contains any irritant or chemical that can cause allergies, thereby helping avoid such problems. However, keep in mind that not all the ingredients are always mentioned on the labels.
While determining which ingredients are harmful can be difficult, individual sensitivity to different fragrances is another factor that needs to be considered. If you are highly sensitive to fragrances, a good idea is to look for options with a very faint or light scent.
There are also options that do not have any scent and are generally created to block foul body odor instead of providing any additional fragrance. Similarly, those prone to allergies or irritation from strong chemicals can use milder perfume or cologne products.
You should also use a product with a tolerable smell for application on the lips, and it is best to avoid very strong and exotic fragrances. If you start experiencing symptoms of irritation, such as sneezing or watery eyes, remove the fragrance immediately by washing the area.
Such problems can occur by touching the lips and then accidentally touching your eyes, and this can also transmit the virus to the eyes. This can lead to more complicated health problems.
Recovering From A Cold Sore Outbreak
The best and most effective way to deal with an outbreak of cold sores is by using over-the-counter medications. This is because fragrance products often contain chemicals that can cause various complications and may not even be an option for those with problems like allergies.
Healing Cold Sores Effectively
Generally, it takes two weeks for cold sores to heal, but some methods can help accelerate this process. These generally involve using over-the-counter medications, which can heal these sores in three to four days.
Some common medications you can use include Abreva, Campho-Phenique Cold Sore Gel, Herp-B Gone Cream, and Virulite Electronic Device. But irrespective of the method or product, the priority should be ensuring maximum safety.
There are some other treatments that you can try out for treating cold sores, such as:
1. Application Of Ice
Upon noticing the first signs of cold sores, simply apply ice to the area, which will help kill the bacteria and prevent them from spreading. You can apply an ice cube to the region for about ten minutes or if you have sensitive skin, wrap it in a tissue and then apply it. This can reduce the size of the sore and, in some cases, may even prevent it from appearing on the skin surface.
2. Lifestyle Changes
People with hectic lifestyles and busy schedules generally experience more frequent outbreaks. This is because the immune system in such cases may not be strong enough to prevent cold sores. To deal with this issue, making changes to your lifestyle is essential to ensure that your body gets an adequate amount of nutrition and rest.
3. Antiviral Medications
Apart from using over-the-counter treatments like ointments and creams, you can use various antiviral medications to treat a cold sore. These medications generally contain famciclovir, valacyclovir, and acyclovir and are available as creams or tablets.
4. Home Remedies
Certain home remedies, such as essential oil treatments, have also proven to be effective in dealing with cold sores. You can try applying tea tree or lemon balm essential oil to the affected regions as these can kill viruses. Aloe vera can also be used for this purpose.
Using fragrance products like aftershave or perfume can help dry out cold sores quickly, but there is always a certain degree of risk with such products. While it is best to use over-the-counter medications, you should also consult with a physician about the most effective way to deal with this problem.
And the age-old principle that prevention is better than cure is also applicable in this case. Taking effective steps to prevent further transmission of the virus is crucial. To that end, avoid sharing personal use items like toothbrushes and towels and limit direct physical contact as much as possible.
Hopefully, with these steps, you’ll be able to deal with cold sores easily and quickly.