There is nothing that can turn my day into a bad one more than that initial tingle of an oncoming cold sore. You know what I’m talking about. I’ve been getting cold sores for as long as I can remember and I’ve tried everything under the sun to heal and prevent. I’m going to let you in on how I prevent cold sores, and what not to do if you want it to heal up and go away quickly.
The Cold Sore Cycle
I feel like I have a grieving process within the short life of the cold sore. After the initial tingle, there is the denial stage. After the first day or so there is the resentment stage, finally followed by acceptance.
Denial (The Tingle)
After that initial tingle starts presenting itself, it starts to get itchy. Then it starts to hurt. That’s when denial starts to set in. I don’t know about you, but when I’m in a full blown cold sore, it is the most uncomfortable feeling. I don’t want to do anything. It’s uncomfortable to shower, brush my teeth, cook dinner, or even wash dishes. I think you get where I’m going with this. It’s uncomfortable to do literally anything. All I want to do is touch it, but I don’t want to make it worse, or heaven for bid, give it to someone else.
Resentment (The Blisters)
After the denial phase has passed, you know there is nothing you can do to stop what is coming. You’re angry and resent what is happening and all you want it to do is go away.
Stress is one of the biggest triggers of cold sores for me. So, although I generally have a good idea of the stressor that caused the retched outbreak, I still kick myself for allowing it to happen and I am still bitter at the new growth on my face for the world to see.
At this point the blisters are beginning to grow. The odd thing is, is that unless you know it’s there, the blisters aren’t always totally noticeable. At least for me, it isn’t completely known to the world what is there until the it starts to scab over.
Acceptance (Blisters turn scabs)
Lastly, is the final stage of acceptance. You finally accept that there is nothing that can be done and let it do it’s thing. You try to patiently wait for it to start the scab phase, because, let’s be real. The scab phase is sometimes worse because it can take 2-3 weeks to heal.
How to Prevent Cold Sores
The best way to prevent cold sores is knowing the primary cause and trying to eliminate whatever it might be. Like I said before; mine is stress. I try to eliminate it, but sometimes it just isn’t possible.
The honest to gosh truth I’m going to recommend for someone that gets these things on a regular basis is to see your primary care doctor or dermatologist if you see one regularly. I try not to take medication unless absolutely necessary but what I am about to recommend has been a life saver for me. Why, you might ask?
Valtrex!!!! Yes, the herpes medication you see advertised on TV! I swear by this. One of my doctor’s recommended I try taking it on a daily basis to see what happens. Well, it worked for me! I went over a year without an outbreak. The only time I ever get outbreaks now is if I forget to take it for short windows of time amidst very stressful situations. For instance, I recently got a cold sore because I forgot to take it for awhile and. Then less than two weeks later in the middle of some shizz, I got a second one!!! Lord have mercy!
Needless to say, I am now taking it again on a daily basis and making sure I don’t forget. It was having two of them back-to-back that sparked me to write this. I know so many people deal with these things on a regular basis and there isn’t a way to prevent that is fool proof.
I have searched the internet high and low for ways to help quicken the healing process and I’ve tried a bunch of home remedies. I’m going to tell you that nothing I have tried on the internet worked as well as the methods I’ve discovered on my own. So let me tell you my method and what works, and what I tried that doesn’t.
What Actually Works
- Leave it Alone This is really the best thing that can be done for a cold sore I’ve found.
- Campho Phenique This stuff is Amazing. It has a numbing agent and a menthol type smell. I feel like the menthol helps numb it and make it bearable for while. The directions say to apply it three times a day. I mean, let’s face it. I likely apply 3-5 times daily. I do it once in the morning, at bedtime and a couple times throughout the day. I have a naturally runny nose, so I wipe it a lot. If I wipe it shortly after I had applied the medicine, then I will re-apply. I should add that I get mine around or just below my nose most of the time…not on my lips.
- Mederma Scar Gel After the scab is gone, I used this at night to help prevent scarring
What Doesn’t Work
- Picking/Popping – This one is as gross as it sounds. I read somewhere that draining the blisters would help it heal faster. I think it’s a myth because I was always fearful it would spread more. Plus, it made it scab up and look even worse. No thanks.
- Band aids – Another myth is that a band aid would suffocate it. I would always slather medicine on it and cover with a band aid at night so the medicine would stay put and hope to suffocate it. Well I feel like it gave the blister a longer life to live by keeping it warm and moist. Sounds gross, I know…but it is.
- Ice – The theory here is that the ice would freeze it. Not true. It didn’t do anything good nor bad to the blister.
- Rubbing Alcohol – I remember reading somewhere that the rubbing alcohol would dry up the blisters faster. Nope. This one definitely didn’t work for me either.
Honestly, the three simple steps mentioned above are all I do now and the life of my cold sores aren’t terrible. Like a cold virus, the cold sore virus is only alive and itchy and painful for about 3 days…4 max.
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