By: Sean Darcy (Dr. Sean Darcy MD)
January 19th, 2015
Is there a new bump on your lip? First it gets red, then that itchy tingly area puffs out into a big embarrassing cold sore. Why, you wonder, does it have to happen to me?
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus. For most of the time, these viruses are homebodies. They stay put, but from time to time the virus family likes to take a little trip down the nerve highways until it reaches the skin surface. When this happens, you start to feel that awful tingling sensation that signals the start of another cold sore.
What can you do about it ?
- Zap It With Zinc. Several studies have shown that a water-based zinc solution applied the minute you feel that tingling, will help speed the healing time. Some suggest that zinc irons crosslink with the DNA molecule of the herpes virus and this means the virus can’t replicate. Zinc gluconate, available at health food stores, is kinder to the skin than zinc sulphate.
- Soften It With An OTC. Topical hydrocortisone (available over the counter) will help reduce the redness and the size of the bump. You can apply it multiple times a day.There are numerous products that claim to heal cold sores. In general, they contain some emollient to reduce cracking and soften scabs, and a numbing agent like phenol or camphor. Phenol may have some antiviral properties, and it’s possible that it could kill the virus.
- Avoid Arginine-Rich Foods.
- Start taking an antiviral medication. There are multiple antiviral medications including acyclovir or valacyclovir that you can take to combat the virus outbreak. Your doctor can also put you on a prescription regimen for preventing new outbreaks. Set up an appointment as soon as possible to reduce the time you have this cold sore outbreak. Or even email or text a picture to your doctor so that he/she can send you a prescription.