What are cold sores?
Cold sores (herpes labialis, or oral herpes), are a recurrent skin infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). This virus is usually found in the ganglia nerve and, in stressful circumstances, the virus can be activated and will spread to the lips, leading to the destruction of many epidermis cells. Given its other names, cold sores unsurprisingly appear most commonly on the lips. However, the virus can also appear on the nose, cheeks and fingers. In women, it can often appear on the lower back and buttocks.
What are the symptoms of cold sores?
First, a tingling, itching and burning sensation may be felt on or around the lips. This stage is followed by redness and swelling. Finally, clustered, fluid-filled sores appear. Cold sores usually heal in seven to ten days, but can reactivate at any point after certain triggers such as fatigue and stress, the menstrual cycle, or sun exposure.
How to treat cold sores
Cold sores are often treated with antiviral creams or ointments. However, the efficacy of antiviral creams isn’t always guaranteed because they only work when the virus is in its reduplication phase. In a healthy individual, this phase should only last a couple of hours, so applying any antiviral cream outside of this short time frame only delays healing as the tissue is already torn. Applying creams to already broken tissue could also cause bacterial growth. Thanks to aluminum chloride, Astringent Gel is a very effective symptomatic treatment. Instead of targeting the virus itself, Astringent Gel helps to dry out the sores, reduce swelling and calm itching, helping the cold sores to heal more quickly, and minimizing the risk of scarring.
- Apply Astringent Gel several times a day until the sores have dried out.
- After the sores have dried, apply PEG Balm two or three times a day to help the scabs detach.
Avoid using natural remedies such as vinegar compresses, chamomile tea, baking soda, lemon juice or ice. Although these remedies may help scabs detach quickly, they irritate the cells of the skin, meaning that such remedies can actually prolong inflammation and delay long-term healing.