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Cold Sores – Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

These are fluid filled blisters that appear on the lips and they can also affect the gums, roof of the mouth, inner cheeks, in and around nostrils etc. This is caused due to cold sores virus spreads when coming into contact with the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, genitals etc. Cold sores are also known as fever blisters break and then form a scab which will disappear after a week.


  • Mainly caused due to herpes simplex type 1 virus (HSV-1).
  • HSV-1 is not mainly responsible for genital herpes (herpes simplex type -2) which is transmitted through sexual contact.
  • The virus infact lies dormant in the nerve cells after the initial outbreak thus causing recurrent sores.
  • The sores recur whenever the immune system gets suppressed due to fever, menstruation, stress, fatigue, exposure to sun and wind etc.


  • Initial outbreak is marked by tender and unsightly blisters in and around mouth.
  • In certain cases flu like symptoms and swelling in adjacent lymph nodes occur as well.
  • Recurrences may be milder, itchy or tingling sensation on the lips followed by fluid filled blisters in a day or two.


  • Lysine – 1000mg L-lysine 3 times a day for flare-ups and then 500mg a day along with 30-50mg zinc with evening meal. Lysine must be taken on an empty stomach and never with milk.
  • Melissa cream – Apply to sores 2-4 times a day. It is also called lemon balm.
  • Vitamin C / Flavonoids – 1000mg vitamin C and 500mg flavonoids 3 times a day. Use for flare-ups and reduce the dosage of vitamin C if diarrhoea develops.
  • Vitamin A – 25 000 IU twice a day for 5 days with food. Take it along with 30mg zinc a day. If pregnant or considering pregnancy, do not exceed 2500 IU a day.
  • Echinacea / Goldenseal – 200mg Echinacea and 125mg goldenseal 4 times a day. It is sold singly or as a combination supplement in the market.
  • Selenium – 400mcg a day during flare-ups only. Higher doses are toxic so do not exceed 800mcg daily.
  • Flaxseed oil – 1tbsp (15-20ml) a day with food in the morning.


  • Do not touch the blisters because it may lead to spreading of the virus.
  • Sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher) must be applied to the lips to prevent recurrences.
  • Meditation.
  • Yoga.
  • Other stress reducing techniques.
  • Just stay away from nuts, chocolate, gelatin, whole-grain cereals etc., since they contain large amount of amino acid arginine which triggers cold sores.

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