Cold sore, do we really know the problem? what you need to know about cold sores and useful natural remedies to deal with it.


Cold sore is an infectious and therefore contagious disease, especially as regards predisposed subjects, mainly caused by the Herpes simplex 1 virus. This virus has a particular tropism for the peripheral nervous system and for the skin where it causes an eruption recurrent characterized by groups of vesicles on an erythematous base usually on the lips and always in the usual place and in predisposed subjects.

Cold sore on lips normally lasts a week and in addition to being an annoying imperfection, it is the manifestation of a chronic infection.

After primary infection, it appears that the virus remains in the latent state in the nerve ganglia of the trigeminal, manifesting itself in the moments when the immune defenses are lowered. Once the acute episode is over, Herpes simplex goes back to the ganglion, returning to the latent phase until it is reactivated! In patients with recurrent forms, the virus is periodically reactivated and carried to the epidermis along the peripheral nerve fibers, multiplies in the skin and produces the herpetic lesion.

Cold sore: symptoms and phenomenon

There is initially a sensation of itching or burning, after which there is the appearance on the border between the lips and the skin of small vesicles, single or in groups, full of liquid that after a few days break, giving rise to a small lesion that is covered with a crust yellowish, destined to fall without a trace, but subject to easy bleeding with each stretch of the lips. After the appearance of the lesions, they should generally heal within a week, (obviously the precise timing depends on the subject’s immune response state!).

Cold sore: causes

The causes of cold sore are manifold: they behave as triggers of emotional and involving stresses (perhaps short but intense), physical trauma, temperature changes, typical of mid-seasons, flu stages, wrong diet, wrong diet, hormonal changes and weakening of immune defenses, menstruation, systemic infections. Even too long exposure to the sun without protective filters, usually in the summer at the sea or in the mountains, involves a certain degree of immunosuppression: damage to the lymphocytes occurs, which is an additional optimal condition for the arrival of the viral agent on the lips.

Patients with atopic dermatitis are at risk of being affected by generalized lesions (eczema herpeticum). Even diseases such as leukemia and lymphoma predispose to more generalized, more destructive and slower healing forms “(Arndt).

Why the lips

The lips constitute a less protected area than others: in fact, the stratum corneum becomes thinner and turns into a mucous membrane; however, sometimes, the lip is chapped and can have small cuts that create an access route, so Herpes can take root more easily.

Cold sore natural remedies

The sooner the cure is done, the more effective it will be. Although the body must still complete its repair cycle, thanks to inflammation, by blocking the viral replication of herpex virus it is possible to contain the extent of the disease.

Among the most well-known and appreciated cold sores natural remedies to combat the formation of blisters on the lips, the essential oil Tea tree (Tea Tree Oil) must certainly be mentioned. Regarding this essential oil, deriving from the Melaleuca alternifolia tree, there is now good clinical evidence on its antiseptic action. According to some of the first studies (Penfield, Grant, 1925) and others more recent (Williams et al., 1993; Carson, Riley, 1995), terpinen-4-ol is the most important compound as regards the antimicrobial activity of the Tea Tree Oil. To be used preferably diluted in water, Tea tree oil can be used as soon as the first tingles are perceived on the lip. How to use it? as reported by Valussi (in “The great aromatherapy manual”): “without dilution, 2-3 times a day after cleaning the tissue; it encourages faster healing and reduces scar tissue (the result probably due to action on S. aureus). Try first with the undiluted Tea tree essential oil and dilute only in case of irritation “.

In herbal medicine, according to Chiereghin (Phytotherapy for the pharmacist, P. Chiereghin, 2005), the general treatment involves the use of Echinacea Mother Tincture at a dose of 30 drops at least 2 times a day, on an empty stomach; of the Ribes nigrum bud extract for its anti-inflammatory value and of the Linden bud extract because often the psychosomatic component is not to be underestimated.

Among the cosmetics, an effective and natural cold sore cream is “Erpexan” natural hand-made lip baler cream which restores the natural well-being of the lips avoiding itching and redness chapping. This herbal cream is based on uncaria, propolis, panax ginseng, viola tricolor and melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree).

Among the commonly used home remedies for cold sores there are also, for wound healing: the compresses of water and lemon juice, or the vinegar soaked on a cotton pad.

Cold sore and nutrition: foods yes and foods no

Once the virus has appeared, the body needs to take on particularly nutritious elements and substances such as lysine, useful in creating new replacement tissues for the injured ones. Foods rich in this amino acid are legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, beans and soybeans. The latent cold sores virus can be reactivated by poor nutrition, especially by foods rich in arginine such as chocolate, nuts, peanuts and almonds. Alcohol, coffee and carbonated soft drinks are also not recommended for those predisposed or subject to cold sores.

Dr. Laura Comollo

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