Cold sores suck! Unfortunately, some people are plagued with them while others manage to never experience a cold sore during their entire life.
What Causes Cold Sores?
Cold sores are caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). Once you have been exposed to this virus you are infected for life (which is why you need to learn more about coconut oil for cold sores). Infection usually occurs when the virus enters through small breaks in the skin, typically when lips are chapped or have cracking.
If you have the virus, cold sores can develop due to a variety of reasons:
- Emotional and physical stress
- Colds or other respiratory infections
- Exposure to the sun or wind without protection
- Hormonal changes (menstruation, menopause, pregnancy)
It is important to keep your hands OFF of that cold sore! Not only will this speed healing but it will also ensure that you do not spread the infection to someone else.
Kissing is off limits of course! Towel sharing, cup sharing, and utensil sharing too. In addition, you might want to use caution when oil pulling with a cold sore.
Once your cold sore is scabbed over, you should replace your toothbrush, lipstick, or anything else that has touched that area during an active outbreak. The fastest way to reintroduce the virus is to use something that still has cold sore contamination.
Coconut Oil For Cold Sores
Quick disclaimer – I am required to clearly state that I am not a licensed medical professional nor do I pretend to be one on this site. Take what I write as a launching off point to do your own research. My advice, experience, and suggestions are not to be considered medical advice.
Coconut oil is the most plentiful natural source of Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) or Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFA). Of all the numerous pathogens that are destroyed by MCFAs, lipid-coated viruses and bacteria such as the herpes virus seem to be the most open to attack. MCFAs easily subdue lipid-enveloped viruses and bacteria because they easily penetrate the organism’s outer covering. As they enter, MCFAs weaken the herpes virus by breaking down its already nearly fluid outer layer to the point that it literally splits open, spilling its insides and killing it.
This means that coconut oil has some pretty amazing results when applied to a burgeoning cold sore. If you catch it in its infancy, applying coconut oil to the cold sore (with a q-tip and not finger-tip) will keep the cold sore from “popping” and getting all weepy and nasty. It basically attacks the virus in the blister stage and immediately works to start shrinking the blister without it actually opening up and draining.
And don’t forget to consume coconut oil internally during an active outbreak! While I cannot advise you on how much coconut oil to take for a cold sore, typically you would double or triple your normal coconut oil consumption.
Other Natural Cold Sore Home Remedies
Coconut oil is not the only natural cold sore remedy. In fact, there are several other ways to fight back against an outbreak. Here are a few of the more successful treatments:
Garlic is a very helpful remedy for elimination of cold sores both in cases of their first and repeated occurrence. If you notice the very first signs of infection, slice garlic and simply hold it over the infected area for about 2 minutes. The procedure should be repeated at least 3 times daily.
Aloe Vera reduces both irritation and pain of cold sores. Apply its gel directly to the sore as often as needed. I love this aloe vera gel.
Tea bags: Applying warm tea bags to the affected area is an effective remedy. The tannic acid in the tea acts against the virus and prevents it from developing further. Doing this for five days continuously is known for making the sores disappear. I would recommend this brand.
Lemon balm: A member of the mint family, this potent herb has been used for centuries to reduce anxiety and stress, common triggers for cold-sore flare-ups. Studies have shown that this herb reduces redness and swelling after only two days. Steep 2 to 4 teaspoons of crushed lemon balm in 1 cup of boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. Allow the “tea” to cool and dab it on your cold sore with cotton balls throughout the day. This is my favorite cut and sifted dried lemon balm.
Honey has been proven shorten the duration of cold sores 35 percent better than acyclovir, the active ingredient in prescription herpes antiviral treatments. Research from New Zealand found that four different types of honey were able to kill the virus in test tubes, suggesting that any unprocessed, raw honey (which has the highest levels of antiviral compounds) might help a cold sore. I love this raw honey!
There are laundry list of other cold sore remedies like salt, peppermint oil, ice, and olive leaf extract, but in my research I have found that these are not as effective as the natural home remedies listed above.
Sources for this article include:
- Richardson VN, Davis SA, Gustafson CJ, West CE, Feldman SR. Patterns of disease and treatment of cold sores. J Dermatolog Treat. 2013;24(6):439–443. doi:10.3109/09546634.2013.789476 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23541214/
- Intahphuak S, et al. (2009). Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic activities of virgin coconut oil. DOI: doi.org/10.3109/13880200903062614
- Willett WC. (2017). Ask the doctor: Coconut oil and health. health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/coconut-oil