Cold sores, also called fever blisters, are painful clusters of blisters that can develop on or around the lips. These sores are common and will go away on their own, but if you have a major event on your calendar – like a wedding or an important job interview – you may be wondering how to get rid of a cold sore fast. Here's how:
1. Cold Compress
To help your cold sore outbreak heal quickly, try holding a cool, damp cloth against the sores. This can help make your sore less red and crusty and help it to heal more quickly than if you let it alone, reports the Mayo Clinic.
If you can feel a cold sore coming on in the days before your event, but it hasn't appeared yet, Harvard Medical School suggests applying ice to the area. This method may keep a full-blown cold sore from developing, and if the sore does appear, it may go away more quickly. The journal Journal of Professional Nursing Today notes that keeping the sore hydrated by sucking on ice may prevent it from drying, cracking and developing a secondary infection.
2. Cold Sore Ointment
Cold sore ointment is available over-the-counter, and when it's applied frequently, it can shorten a cold sore outbreak. The Mayo Clinic explains that cold sore ointment can shorten an outbreak by as little as a few hours or as long as a day, so it's worth a try when you need to look your best in a hurry. Remember to carefully follow the package directions of your chosen product for best results.
3. Prescription Medication
Antiviral drugs can be used to help your cold sores heal more quickly than they otherwise would. These drugs include acyclovir, famciclovir and valacyclovir, and they're available with a prescription from your dentist or family doctor.
These medications are most effective when they're taken before the blisters appear. When you feel a cold sore coming — tingling, burning, swelling and redness in the area are all clues — the medications can help heal the cold sores or even stop them from appearing at all.
Avoiding Future Cold Sores
The virus that causes cold sores is a lifelong problem, but there are measures you can take to prevent outbreaks. After your cold sore goes away, it's important to replace your toothbrush. The virus that caused your cold sore can live on your toothbrush for days, and if you brush your teeth with this contaminated toothbrush, your lip could become re-infected. To avoid a hasty repeat of your outbreak, discard your old one.
If you suffer from cold sores often, your dentist may recommend taking an antiviral medication regularly to help prevent outbreaks. He or she may also advise avoiding factors that trigger your outbreaks, like stress or sun exposure.
When you have an important social or work event on your calendar, it's important to know how to get rid of a cold sore fast.