What is cold sore? When you battle cold, flu or nasal congestion, the last thing you need is a cold sore. Let alone one in your nose. Squeezing your swollen nose several times a day, due to the necessity of blowing the nose, is painful enough and with a cold sore on the edge or inside the nose, turns into a mission impossible. The good news is that not everyone has to experience it. The bad news, once you get a cold sore once, it may keep coming back like a nightmare.
Cold sore occurs when you get infected with HSV-1 virus (not to be mistaken for HSV-2, responsible for genital herpes). While it’s incurable, most of the time it stays inactive. First outbreak is usually the most painful. It starts with a tingling or itching sensation on your lip or at the edge of your nose, but cold sores may also develop in the nasal and oral cavities. After one day a spot builds up in the itchy area and when it erupts, the zone gets covered with a painful blister that fills with a liquid. The last phase is oozing and crusting when cold sores burst and ooze yellowish fluid that crusts over the infected zone.
Causes of cold sore
As mentioned above, cold sore is directly caused by HSV-1 virus. It remains dormant the majority of the time and gets triggered by certain factors. People tend to suffer from cold sores when they have flu or a viral infection or when their bodies are weakened from chemotherapy, severe burns or HIV/AIDS. The immunity system is weakened and doesn’t have resources to fight two battles at the same time. Hormonal changes may also evoke the outbreak of cold sore, especially in women before or during menstruation. Many people fall victim to cold sore when they undergo a lot of stress that strongly affects their bodies.
If you have never suffered from cold sore, it does not mean you do not carry the virus. Many people get infected and never experience any signs or symptoms of a cold sore. You need to stay vigilant, though, because HPV-1 is highly contagious and a simple act of sharing the same utensils or giving an infected person a kiss may transfer the virus to your body. If it happens and you get an outbreak, here’s how to alleviate the symptoms of cold sore with some very efficient home remedies.
Home remedies for cold sore. How to get rid of it?
First and foremost, just like in case of any viral infection, you need to make sure you don’t spread the virus with your hands, or by drinking from the same bottle as another person. Try to avoid kissing your partner, even on the cheek, if one of you is suffering from a cold sore outbreak. To alleviate the pain and discomfort caused by a cold sore you can use some over-the counter medications or try some very effective home remedies.
Increase the Intake of Fluids
If you want to speed up the process of healing a zone affected by a cold sore, make sure you drink lots of water. First of all, it will help flush the toxins out of your body. Secondly, if you have a cold sore in your nose, keeping your body hydrated will maintain the mucous membrane moist, which is especially important if you suffer simultaneously from a running nose.
Remember that the intake of certain liquids is not recommendable when you suffer from cold sore. It is better to avoid hot beverages as they simply might cause pain when they come in contact with a very sensitive skin damaged by a cold sore. Orange, pineapple, grapefruit and other acidic juices are not the best choice either since they may aggravate the symptoms of cold sore.
Vitamins A, D, C
While increasing the intake of vitamin C does not directly influence the healing process when you suffer from cold, flu or a cold sore in your nose, it is a good idea to take it as a supplement to give a boost to your immune system. If you follow the recommendations and drink plenty of fluids when you go down with flu, you can be sure that a lot of vitamin C gets flushed out from your body with urine. Those who prefer supplementation in a more natural form should reach for products that are packed with vitamin C, like red and green peppers, broccoli and strawberries. Again, try to avoid citrus fruits and replace them with some less acidic foods.
Other important vitamins you should supplement while battling cold sore in the nose are vitamins A and D. Both of them pay a very important role in the process of skin cells regeneration. Almost every pharmacy stocks special ointments that contain a very high level of both vitamin A and D. Apply it 2-3 times a day to the cold sore in order to help your body battle the infection and moisture the affected area. This ointment, just like petroleum jelly, prevents the surface of cold sore from cracking and helps speed up the healing process. This reduces the risk of spreading the infection on other skin areas.
If you suffer simultaneously from a cold sore and a nasal congestion, blowing your nose may become very difficult. That’s why a nasal rinse can bring you a great relief. It helps loosen the mucus accumulated in the nasal cavity, moistens the mucous membrane, eases the cold sores due to its antiseptic properties and flush bacteria out of your nose. What do you need to perform a nasal rinse? A neti pot or a squirt bottle and a saline solution which you can easily prepare from salt and water at home. Remember to use mineral water in order to prevent any tap water bacteria from entering your nose cavity.
One of the most widely recommended home remedies for cold sores is witch hazel. It has strong antiseptic agents and when applied directly to the cold sore, it dries it and reduces the amount of liquid being produced. If you have a cold sore in your nose, use a Q-tip to apply witch hazel on the affected surface. Witch hazel is widely available, not only in all pharmacies.
Lysine is a supplement recommended by doctors to patients with recurrent cold sore. As we said, once you catch the virus, it’s always there and may wake up at any time. According to Murphy’s Law, many people get an outburst of a cold sore in the least convenient moment, like the day before an important business meeting or a trip. In order to prevent it, you can regularly take lysine tablets. They won’t entirely protect you from the occurrence of a cold sore, but they will reduce the amount of outbursts and the severity of symptoms.
If you’re not a fan of taking supplements and prefer to enrich your diet in products that contain a lot of lysine, think about incorporating more fresh fish, cheese and vegetables, especially beans, in your diet. This will not only help you prevent and treat cold sores, but will improve the overall condition of your body.
Ginger has countless properties that can benefit our health. When you suffer from cold sore in the nose or on the lip, you can prepare some ginger paste that will speed up the process of healing. You can use ground ginger or finely grate the ginger root. Add a few drops of lukewarm water and apply the paste with a Q-tip on the cold sore. Leave it on for 15-20 minutes. Ginger not only works as an antiseptic, but also dries up the liquid that is produced in the infected area, which, in turn, helps prevent the virus from spreading on the adjacent zones.
Aloe vera helps cure all kinds of skin problems, from discolouration to inflammation and sunburns. If you apply a bit of aloe vera gel on your cold sore, you can be sure that the infected skin will heal much faster and the cold sore symptoms will become less noticeable. For better results it is recommended that you keep aloe vera in the fridge. Lower temperature of the product will bring an extra soothing sensation and reduce swelling in the cold sore area.
People who have noticed a recurring cold sore should take a better care of their immune system. Every time it weakens, they can expect an outburst of painful spots filled with unpleasant fluid. In order to fortify the immune system, they need to increase the intake of probiotics. They can be purchased in the form of capsules or tablets in any pharmacy as well as in many supplement stores. A more natural alternative to pharmaceutical probiotics are unsweetened natural yoghurts and cottage cheese. Research shows that maintaining the right level of good bacteria in your body through supplementation or diet can make you over 60% less prone to viral infections.
Over the Counter Medicines
Contemporary medicine offers numerous solutions to the cold sore. There is a wide range of creams, ointments and tablets which alleviate the syndromes of cold sore in the nose. The majority of them are available without prescription. In fact, hardly anyone consults the doctor about this condition, unless it’s their cold sore debut, which is usually the most painful one.
The most effective among all cold sore medicines are the ones that fall into the category of antivirals. While the pills are available only upon prescription, there are many over-the-counter creams and ointments that contain a small amount of the active ingredient and when applied to the tingling spot in or around your nose, it can reduce or completely stop the outburst. The key is to be able to recognise the first symptoms of cold sore in the nose, have the appropriate ointment at hand and act fast.
Simple analgesics, or pain killers, like aspirin and ibuprofen are recommended to those who are severely affected by pain caused by a cold sore. Analgesics don’t cure the skin or kill the virus, but ease the symptoms in some more serious cases of cold sore. Some gels and ointments like e.g. benzocaine, lidocaine and dibucaine also reduce the pain caused by strong HSV-1 infections.
How to prevent cold sores
If you are one of the few lucky people who have never experienced a cold sore, do your best to protect yourself from HSV-1. Remember that once it enters your body, it is incurable and will keep you bad company forever. Below you can find some advice on how to stay clear of the virus.
Avoid Contact with HSV-positive People
If you decide to follow this piece of advice to the dot, you will have to stay away from almost 80% of the population. This is how many of us carry the HSV-1. Luckily, this virus is contagious only during the short outbreak periods. When you see a person with a cold sore, try not to approach him or her too closely. Avoid all kinds of physical contact, including a hand shake. The virus can be very easily transferred from one hand to another in just a few seconds. Your best bet is be to use a hand sanitizer after the contact with an infected person.
If your partner suffers from cold sores, make sure you don’t use the same cups, glasses or cutlery. When you notice that your immune system is vulnerable and you think you may fall victim to the virus, it’s better to sleep in separate rooms for a few days, until the blister on the cold sore gets dry and the risk of infection significantly decreases.
Diet and Exercise
Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet and practising regular, light exercise is the best way to boost your immune system and your overall well-being. When you give your body the right amount of nutrients and vitamins, you buy yourself an insurance for many unexpected infections, including cold sore.
When you should see a doctor
In case of recurrent or very painful cold sores you should probably contact your doctor. Regular cold sore heals within 7 days. If the healing process gets prolonged to two weeks and more, you need to take some test that will show why your immune system is not able to deal with the infection.