Since the virus responsible for cold sores cannot be eradicated from the body once infected, cold sore treatments are designed to treat the symptoms of an attack rather than the root cause. Herpes Simplex Virus I infects around 90 percent of the population of the United States and although not everyone infected suffers from outbreaks, it is an extremely common condition. However unpleasant it may be, it is not a serious illness and the good news is that symptoms can be treated in a variety of ways.
While preventative treatments focus on suppressing the virus by ensuring the immune system is strong enough to prevent it from awaking from its dormant state, once the virus reactivates it is crucial to act quickly. As soon as you can feel the tingling sensation in the affected area you should start. Left alone an attack typically lasts for 7-10 days, although some people experience them for longer. However, choosing the right remedies can reduce this to around 3 days in some cases; knowing how your own body responds to different treatments is key here.
The use of lysine in treating cold sores is well established and can be taken either by eating lysine rich foods such as red meat and dairy products; in the form of a dietary supplement; or as a topical cream. Other topical treatments that can help are lemon balm, often found as a cream in Europe, but equally effective if lemon balm tea is applied, and tea tree oil. In addition to helping fight the virus, these help reduce swelling and discomfort as well as help fight any secondary bacteriological infection. It is also helpful to drink plenty of water during a cold sore outbreak, like with any viral infection.
There are also medicinal products available for the treatment of cold sores, although they have been shown to be disappointing in their effectiveness. Abreva is currently the only FDA approved over-the-counter cold sore remedy, while Zovirax can dramatically lessen the impact of an outbreak in some sufferers. Again, these may prove to be effective, although they are relatively expensive and some people report suffering mild but unpleasant side effects.
The effect of cold sores on the lives of sufferers cannot be underestimated. However, but finding cold sore treatments that work on an individual basis the pain and embarrassment of cold sore outbreaks can be greatly reduced.