Toothpaste for Cold Sores: Does It Work?
Published July 31st, 2020
Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is one of, if not, the most widespread STI in the world today. Statistics show that about 2 in 3 people under fifty years old will have HSV-1 or oral herpes. HSV-2, more commonly known as genital herpes, affects every 1 in 8 people.
Herpes symptoms can range from tell-tale signs to nothing at all. Cold sores are one of the more painful and lucid symptoms that you have herpes. They can be caused by both HSV-1 and HSV-2. Many people have raved about the positive effects toothpaste has had on their cold sores, but is it true? Is there scientific research and evidence that supports this? In this article, we’ll be looking into the myth that toothpaste can cure cold sores.
What are cold sores?
Cold sores, or fever blisters, appear as small-fluid filled bumps usually around the lips. The cause of which is the widespread HSV-1, and less commonly, HSV-2. These sores can be annoying, leading to blisters that burst and crust over the next few weeks. The social stigma associated with cold sores makes having them embarrassing too. This makes the need for a remedy that much more significant.
Can toothpaste cure cold sores?
In theory, toothpaste should be able to relieve or calm the severity of cold sores. The science behind that is in one of the ingredients of toothpaste, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). Apparently, SLS can help dry out blisters similar to what cold sores are.
Unfortunately, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to come to a valid conclusion. Most claims of its effectivity are based on personal accounts, so they should be taken with a grain of salt. Furthermore, research conducted in Germany showed that prolonged contact with SLS could irritate the skin.
It would be best for you to consult with a licensed physician before trying to treat yourself. Some home remedies could have adverse effects and worsen your initial condition.
What can I do to remedy cold sores?
These are some medications that have been proven to help remedy cold sores:
- Antiviral medication – since herpes is a virus, an antiviral medication will help cold sores heal more quickly. Most of these are prescription drugs, so you’ll have to visit a physician before buying them.
- Aloe vera gel – helps soothe the inflammation while moisturizing the affected part.
- Cold compress – the cooling effect will help numb the pain in the affected area.
- Lemon balm – lemon balm extract reportedly has healing properties.
- Licorice root or licorice powder – has antiviral properties. Mix in some licorice powder with water or petroleum jelly and apply directly to sores.
- Lysine – may boost the immune system and promote cell repair.
- Over-the-counter creams – Some creams can help relieve pain from cold sores and keep the skin soft while healing.
- Painkillers – will not directly treat the cold sores, but it will help manage the soreness.
- Peppermint oil – said to be effective against cold sores.
What can I do to prevent cold sores?
Many different things can trigger cold sores. The critical factor is your immune system, which is why you have to keep it healthy. Here are some ways you can prevent cold sores.
- Eat a healthy diet. Intaking the right amount of nutrients will help strengthen your immune system to fight off viral outbreaks like cold sores.
- Get enough sleep. About 35% of adults do not get enough sleep, which can lead to sicknesses. Sleep is vital in keeping a robust immune system.
- Avoid stressful situations. Stress can also be a trigger for viral outbreaks. Since your body is one big system, your mental health translates to physical health. Reducing the stress you’re exposed to will help curb cold sores and other stress-related problems.
Use sunscreen. Sunlight can trigger herpes outbreaks due to the presence of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV exposure can affect the immune system, promoting viral activity.
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