At best, cold sores are unsightly bothers. At worst, they can be painful and embarrassing. Either way, it’s no surprise you’re looking for how to get rid of cold sores fast.
Here we’ll explore some of the best cold sore treatments available throughout each stage of a cold sore’s development (the tingling warning, the actual sore, and the scab).
How to Stop Cold Sores
“How to stop a cold sore when you feel it coming on” is a common question. Unfortunately, it’s also an optimistic question – you can’t entirely stop a cold sore from happening when it’s made up its mind.
However, it’s never too early to start a course of prescription anti-viral medication. Doing so as soon as you feel that all-too-familiar tingle can help reduce the chances of having a major outbreak. Early action can also reduce the overall length of the outbreak.
The ‘coming soon’ phase is also a good time to stop spreading your cold sores to others (e.g. by avoiding kissing and other intimate contact, not sharing any personal items or cutlery, and not touching the infected area apart from applying ointment).
How to Treat Cold Sores
The best cold sore treatments are usually anti-viral prescription medications such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir. These can be taken either as oral pills or as a cream applied to the affected skin (the pills are typically more effective). In extreme cases, a doctor might recommend an injection of antiviral drugs.
How to Heal a Cold Sore
Beyond prescription medication, some of the things you can try at home to help your cold sore heal include:
- Lip balms and moisturising creams (particularly if your outbreaks are commonly caused by sunlight or dryness)
- Applying a damp cloth (cold for reducing redness and crust, warm to ease blister pain)
- Over-the-counter pain relief medication or cream.
How to Get Rid of a Cold Sore Scab
The healing (scab) phase is important for ensuring your cold sore doesn’t leave a scar. The key here is to leave it alone. Picking at the scab will only make it deeper and could even lead to a problematic infection.
Even though it may be irritating and unsightly, the best thing you can do is remain patient and let it heal at its own pace. If the area starts to peel or dry out, lightly apply some moisturiser to keep the skin comfortable.
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