This Hack For Treating Cold Sores Has Saved Me So Much Money on Over-the-Counter Meds
If you're among the 50 percent of Americans who get cold sores — otherwise known as fever blisters — then you know just how annoying they can be. Those pesky, and often incredibly painful, sores always seem to crop up at exactly the wrong time, whether you have a presentation at work, are going on a first date, or have to be part of a bridal party within the week.
Like my mom, I have unfortunately suffered from cold sores my entire life. As a little kid, I got them constantly, so I've had to learn a few hacks for treating them along the way. While adults are much more understanding about them — you have no idea how many rude comments I used to get on the playground! — feeling that initial, unmistakable tingle always makes me groan.
For many people, getting older means getting cold sores less often, however, once you have the strain of the herpes simplex virus — aka herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) — there's no way to get rid of it. While oral pills like Valtrex have been developed to prevent outbreaks, many people don't feel like taking a prescription every day to keep them at bay.
Over the years, I have found two helpful ways to lessen the severity of cold sores as soon as you start to feel one coming on. Your first line of defense is taking Lysine Tablets ($7), an oral supplement you can find at any drugstore, as soon as you feel the tingle. (If you're particularly ambitious, take one every day to curb them from cropping up for good.)
As anyone who gets cold sores know, sometimes you simply can't act fast enough, especially if you wake up with one. Although I've spent hundreds of dollars on over-the-counter medication in the past, I found a more effective way to treat fever blisters after desperately scouring the internet. All you need are some toothpaste and regular old salt to make an at-home remedy that will dry out cold sores with just a few applications.
Scroll ahead to get the easy step-by-step instructions.
Step 1: Start With Your Toothpaste
Because many toothpastes include sodium lauryl sulfate — an ingredient that helps dry out cold sores — in their formulas, it can help speed up healing time. While using toothpaste to help heal a fever blister hasn't been officially studied, there's enough anecdotal evidence to give it a try. To start making your ointment, put a healthy squirt of toothpaste into a small bowl or ramekin.
Step 2: Add Salt
Naturally, salt can be used to help further dry out your fever blister. Just add a few shakes of your favorite brand to your toothpaste.
Step 3: Mix It Up
Mix up the toothpaste and salt. I typically like to add a bit more salt during this process, resulting in the concoction looking a bit more chunky. From there, simply spread it over the affected area and go about the rest of your day. It's also important to keep in mind that you may feel a slight burning sensation after application. While a little bit of burning is normal, if you find that you're in actual pain, wash off the mixture immediately.
If you plan to reapply throughout the day, simply cover the rest of the toothpaste and salt mixture, and throw it in the fridge. The added cooling effect will offer even more relief.