Although the name is misleading and cold sores don’t actually have anything to do with the cold, at this time of year when people are suffering from the effects of a long winter (and even here on Jersey it feels like it has been a particularly long one!) it can often cause a rash of cold sores to arrive. But what exactly are cold sores and what are some of the best ways to treat them?
Cold sores are caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (in most cases by the HSV-1 strain, but in a minority of cases by the HSV-2 strain). This is a highly contagious virus that can be spread by direct personal contact with a cold sore. There is no known cure for the virus, but in most people the virus remains inactive for most of the time only becoming active and causing a cold sore occasionally. When the virus does become active the sufferer tends to feel a itching, tingling or burning sensation, usually around their lips. Small fluid-filled sores will then appear, most often on the edges of your lower lip, but they can appear anywhere around the mouth area.
Exactly what triggers activation of the virus is unknown and most likely varies from person to person, however some likely triggers include; having another infection, having a high temperature, stress, tiredness and fatigue, an injury to the affected area, menstruation and strong sunlight. Unfortunately it is not always possible to avoid many of these triggers, so what can you do to treat a cold sore when it does appear?
Although unsightly and sometimes uncomfortable or painful, cold sores will usually clear up by themselves, without treatment, within around seven to ten days. However this can feel like far too long for many cold sore sufferers and there are some remedies that can increase the healing time of a cold sore dramatically. Generally the trick is to attack the virus as soon as you feel that very first tingle and thus stop it from fully activating.
There are a number of antiviral treatments that are specifically designed for cold sores that are available over the counter from the pharmacy. However these are often expensive and can contain numerous harsh chemically synthesised ingredients. Instead why not try treating your cold sore with a little of our lovely lavender essential oil? Lavender oil is naturally antiviral but it also has properties that promote the rapid and scar free healing of the skin so not only will it attack the HSV-1 virus, it will also help the skin to heal naturally if the cold sore appears.
To treat your cold sore with lavender oil we recommend applying a single neat drop to the area when you first feel the tingle, and then treating the area with 1:5 ratio of diluted lavender oil (into a carrier oil such as olive or sweet almond) up to twice more per day. We would love to hear if you have also had success treating your cold sores with lavender oil, so please contact us and share your experiences.