Fever blisters, otherwise known as cold sores, are a common problem among many, and home remedies for them are often attempted to avoid the use of medical treatments which can be expensive.
Fever Blisters: The Facts
Fever blisters are caused by the herpes simplex virus, which can be present in the body for many years without a person even knowing it until a breakout. The herpes virus is commonly recognized as two types: HSV 1, which is responsible for fever blisters and HSV 2, commonly linked to genital herpes.
Fever blisters can occur at any time but can be triggered in particular by:
- Injury or damage to the lips or mouth
- Dental treatment
- Cosmetic surgery
- General fatigue
- Hormonal changes
Herpes is a silent virus lying dormant until an attack occurs and a fever blister appears. Most people who suffer from regular fever blisters will be aware of the itching and tingling sensation that often precipitates the sore itself from breaking out. It is always best to start treating the problem as soon as you experience symptoms suggestive of a blister attack. It is a fact that the first outbreak of a fever blister is the worst, with subsequent episodes being less severe.
Home Remedies for a Fever Blister
There are several FDA approved over-the-counter treatments for fever blisters. These include Zovirax, Denavir, and Fanvir. These drugs are supplied in the form or creams or topical ointments, however it is advised that a first outbreak of a fever blister should be treated with oral medication which can be prescribed by a physician. Subbsequent to that, over the counter remedies are sufficient.
Home remedies for a fever blister are available, however as with many 'alternative' approaches to medical problems there are no guarantees of a cure and there is rarely scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of such methods. The following are home remedies or methods of reducing the unpleasant symptoms a fever blister is likely to bring with it:
- Apply ice - sometimes the pain caused by a fever blister can be excruciating and the numbing effects of ice can be temporarily soothing.
- Lemon balm extract - known for its soothing and healing properties, lemon balm extract can be applied direct to the sore.
- Baking soda - this forms an alkaline base when applied direct to the sore; it is a fact that herpes cannot replicate in an alkaline environment.
- Aloe Vera - a good all round first aid treatment for fever blisters and other breakages of the skin or blemishes.
- Honey - honey has been used for centuries as an antiviral, antifungal and antibiotic; when applied direct to the sore, many believe it can aid healing.
- Petroleum jelly - although this will not provide a cure or relief of all symptoms, the application of a small covering of jelly over the blister will create a protective layer.
- Aromatherapy - some believe that aromatherapy can be an effective treatment for fever blisters. The use of essential oils such as rose, tea tree, geranium, lemon balm, and bergamot are common among aromatherapy practices.
In relation to those remedies listed above, home remedies for a fever blister are relatively harmless with few problems associated with use. It is always best if at all unsure to check with a doctor, pharmacist, or alternative remedy practitioner before using any remedy you are not familiar with.
General Hygiene Measures to Avoid Contamination
The herpes virus, whether it is oral or genital, can be particularly problematic as it is easily spread and in any cases without the recipient even being aware until an outbreak occurs. When an individual is knowingly suffering from an outbreak of oral herpes, it is strongly advised that they refrain from oral contact with others as the open sore can be extremely contagious and pass on the virus easily.
Avoid sharing toothbrushes, cups, and other items which may have direct contact with the affected area of the mouth, as avoidance of the spread is possible if care is taken. Hand washing is also recommended after the sore has been touched, such as when applying creams or other remedies. In some cases it has been known that the virus can be spread from the mouth to the genitals following infection from a contaminated hand.