Also known as fever blisters, cold sores 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 wonder 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 reduce redness and remove crusting, while also accelerating the healing process, 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 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; when applied frequently, it can shorten the duration of 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 your chosen product's directions for use to get the best results.
3. Prescription Medication
Antiviral medications can help your cold sores heal more quickly. Visit your dentist or family doctor for a prescription.
These medications are most effective when taken before the blisters appear. If you feel a cold sore coming — tingling, burning, swelling and redness in the area are all signs — the medication can stop the cold sore from appearing at all, and will help it heal when it does occur.
The virus that causes cold sores is a lifelong problem, but you can take measures to prevent outbreaks. Once your cold sore has disappeared, it's important to replace your toothbrush. The virus that caused your cold sore can live on your toothbrush for days; 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 toothbrush.
If you suffer from cold sores often, your dentist may recommend taking antiviral medication regularly to help prevent outbreaks. He or she may also advise avoiding factors that trigger your outbreaks, such as 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.