Nothing can clear up a cold sore overnight but there are a few things you can do to shorten the duration of a cold sore outbreak and to facilitate the healing process.
From start to resolution, cold sores can take a couple of weeks to disappear. Initially, a cold sore is not visible. After a few days, the cold sore develops into a blister before “opening” and subsequently turning into a scab. It will then heal over the course of one to two weeks, usually without leaving a scar behind. However, you can choose to take a proactive stance against the virus in order to facilitate the healing process and get back to feeling like your normal self. You can reduce discomfort and embarrassment through the following actions:
Ease discomfort faster
Apply ice (ice cubes in a damp towel) or a cold pack directly to the infected area for a few minutes, several times a day. It can ease the inflammation of cold sores and provides temporary relief.
Do not try to pop a cold sore
Popping a cold sore can be tempting but it is actually one of the worst things you can do during a cold sore outbreak.
When you pop a cold sore, you raise the risk of releasing viral particles onto your healthy skin. You also increase the risk of spreading them to your fingers or eyes. You may also increase the risk of spreading the virus to other people.
You should also refrain from touching the cold sores in order to avoid accidentally popping them or spreading the virus to your fingers.
Avoid the risk of secondary infection
Another reason why you should avoid touching your cold sores, especially open ones, is to protect yourself. As with everybody, you have numerous bacteria on your fingers and under your fingernails. When your fingers come in to contact with an open cold sore, bacteria can enter into the sore and potentially cause infection. If cold sores resulting from a viral infection are secondarily infected by bacteria, you may have to deal with swelling, inflammation and pain in addition to the usual symptoms of a cold sore.
Moreover, when an open cold sore takes in bacteria and becomes infected, it can cause bleeding and lasting skin damage. This also comes with the risk of leaving a permanent scar near or on your lips.
Speeding up the healing
Treating a cold sore in its earliest stage can result in a smaller sore that heals quickly.
COMPEED® cold core patches contain active hydrocolloid gel technology developed to heal cold sores fast. COMPEED® cold sore patches have been proven to not only promote fast healing but relieve pain too. They have been proven to be an efficacious treatment for cold sores while providing important additional immediate benefits such as helping reduce the risk of contamination and making the cold sore less visible.
As COMPEED® cold sore patches create a protective shield over the wound, they help prevent it from being in contact with acidic foods or drinks like juice or vinegar that can irritate the open cold sore.
Antiviral medicines, acting directly on the infectious agent, can be prescribed to reduce or block the virus from replicating itself. Taken in the early stages, these can help to prevent the development of cold sores. More often however, antiviral creams that can be bought in chemists or from the supermarket are used. When the blisters are about to burst, the virus no longer multiplies. At this point, it may be too late to act on the virus; the priority is to do everything possible to limit contamination, manage pain and facilitate healing.
Take care of yourself
Cold sores are known to be triggered by stress, fatigue, lack of sleep and physical strain. Take care of yourself: your body is your best ally in getting rid of a cold sore quickly. Try to adopt a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and a reasonable pace of life to maximise the chances of recovery.
Karlsmark T et al. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2008 Nov;22(10):1184-92.
Medical Microbiology. Chapter 68 Herpesviruses. 4th edition. Baron S, editor. Galveston 1996.