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Cold sores are annoying AF; they’re painful, itchy, and they can make you feel a little self-conscious. And while they’re super common and nothing to worry about in the grand scheme of things, you likely landed here because you want to get rid of it ASAP. Trust us, we’ve tried every cold sore remedy under the sun; perfume, ice, tea bags, toothpaste – you name it, we’ve done it (even when we probably shouldn’t have). Here’s everything you need to know about cold sores and how to get rid of them.

What Is a Cold Sore?

If you’re wondering ‘what’s a cold sore?’ Well, it’s a tiny sore or blister-like lesion that appears on the lips, around the mouth area, chin, cheeks or around the nostrils. There are typically three stages of a cold sore: They first appear as small bumps on your skin, after this, they can turn white and look like a cluster of tiny blisters. Once they’ve blistered they’ll scab, this part can be particularly painful. But be patient. The blister will fall off eventually, leaving fresh skin in its place. Try not to pick the blister or it could bleed and the healing process will take longer.

Cold sore

Source: Sergii Chepulskyi/Shutterstock

What Causes a Cold Sore?

When we spoke to celebrity dermatologist and Founder of Lancer Skincare, Dr. Lancer, he outlined the causes of a cold sore “They’re either viral [you catch them from someone else] can originate from a previously obtained infection or you’re simply genetically prone. They’re triggered by a variety of things including stress, injury, weather climate, temperature or dietary changes.” Dr. Lancer also told us his top treatment tips:

Ice it ASAP

“As soon as you feel a slight tingle, indicating that a cold sore is about to breakout, apply ice to the affected area to kill the bacteria and prevent it from spreading,” says Dr. Lancer. Speaking from experience, this can significantly reduce the size of your cold sore and on a good day, prevent it from surfacing completely. We like to hold a cube of ice directly to our cold sore for about 10 minutes (wrap the ice in a thin piece of tissue if your skin is particularly sensitive). Remember, this is an integral step if you want to get rid of your cold sore in three days.

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Topical Treatments

According to Dr. Lancer, “The most effective method of treatment would be an oral or topical cream like Blistex or Zovirax.” Apply the cream every two hours, ideally using a Q-tip to avoid transferring any dirt or bacteria from your finger onto the cold sore. “To treat your cold sore at home, try continually coating the area with a little bit of coconut oil – if you can keep the cold sore isolated, insulated and moist, it has a tendency to heal faster,” says Dr. Lancer. You can also buy cold sore patches from the drugstore that help prevent the cold sore from spreading. These are particularly helpful in the early stages of your cold sore, as it can also stop the cold sore from progressing into a blister or forming a scab.

Oral Medications

To really take down that cold sore from every angle, you can also take oral medication. In our experience Aciclovir tablets work well, as they kill the infection from within. If you take these and use a topical treatment, your cold sore should be gone in three days. Dr. Lancer adds, “If you’re prone to getting them regularly, taking 1000mg of vitamin C a day can help prevent them from reoccurring.”

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Slow Down

As cold sores are often a consequence of a poor immune system due to a busy, hectic lifestyle, whenever one pops up, chances are, you need to slow down. Try to make sure you’re eating well, and getting plenty of natural vitamins and minerals to improve your immune system. And of course, prioritize sleep as much as possible, this means getting eight hours a night.

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We hope this guide helps you guys through the winter months, and remember to keep your lips hydrated to avoid cracking and dryness. Check out our fave lip balms here.