Cold sores or fever blisters are caused by the herpes simplex virus. They usually occur on the cheeks, fingers, nose, mouth or lips. The blisters break and ooze, form a yellow scab which slowly sloughs off before new skin appears. Cold sores can last for 7-10 days, are very painful and contagious till they crust over fully. Cold sores are only serious for those with impaired immune system – like those with AIDS.
Symptoms of cold sores include fluid-filled painful and itching blisters, swollen gums and lymph nodes around the neck, fever and tingling sensation. Cold cores cannot be cured but the pain can be alleviated by avoiding acidic or spicy foods, OTC medications with numbing agents like menthol or phenol. For severe pain, oral antiviral medication or a local anesthetic gel could be prescribed. Following personal hygiene – washing hands after touching a sore, not touching or using products of an infected person – can prevent cold sores.
Aloe Vera for Cold Sores
Aloe vera plants are found in tropical and subtropical regions. They can even be easily grown in your backyard. The gel and latex got from the leaves have been used for medicinal purposes for many centuries. Aloe medications can be used topically or taken orally to treat various diseases. Topically, aloe vera gel is used to treat cold sores, burns, frostbite, sunburn or psoriasis. There is scientific evidence to show that using aloe vera gel on wounds can help heal them faster. This is because it is able to improve blood circulation. Both aloe vera gel and aloe latex are taken orally to treat osteoarthritis, irritable bowel diseases, itching, diabetes, constipation and more.
Although aloe vera gel contains 99% water, the other 1% contains a range of vitamins, minerals, proteins, essential fatty acids, enzymes, amino acids, polysaccharides and glycoproteins.
Cold sores affect nearly 40 million people each year. The lips and mouth are the most commonly affected areas. Many people feel depressed and humiliated by these unsightly sores. However, while it does take up to 10 days to heal, there are many treatment options available like vitamin C, topical creams or lip balms using aloe vera gel, L-lysine supplements and analgesics.
New studies have shown that aloe vera gel can be used topically to cure cold sores, canker sores, lichen planus, gingivitis, herpes simplex viruses and other oral health conditions. It can accelerate the healing process and reduce blisters that are formed by canker or cold sores around the mouth and lips.
Studies have found that aloe vera does protect our body against various viruses including the one that causes cold sores – herpes simplex. This has been test tube evidence and further research is required on human beings. Aloe vera gel has been used for centuries to relive symptoms of burns, itchy skin, rashes etc. It can even soothe ulcers of the mouth both internally and externally. Those who prefer using natural treatments are more in favor of using aloe vera gel for cold sores of the mouth. There are several ointments, lip balms or lotions that use aloe vera gel and you need to check which the right concentration for your cold sores is.
It has also been advised that using aloe vera lotions / creams with sunscreen provides an additional benefit for they can then protect against UV rays too.
It is easy to store aloe vera gel. Simply buy fresh gel from the stores or if you have a plant, take the thick leaves, slit them lengthwise and scrape off the gel. Wash the gel and then store it in the refrigerator. When needed, you can simply take a bit and apply on your cold sore. Since it is chilled, it can soothe cold sores even more.
While there is no dosage of aloe vera gel for cold sores, there is some evidence that using aloe vera gel 3-5 times a day can speed up wound healing and help with healing skin ulcers. Acemannan is a polysaccharide found in aloe vera gel that can quicken the healing of canker sores. You are advised to read label instructions for any product before using it on mouth or other ulcers.
Unless you have known allergies to plants of the Lily family – e.g. onions or tulips – aloe vera gel used topically usually does not cause side effects. Oral aloe vera could reduce blood sugar levels.
Aloe vera latex must be taken with caution, for excess could lead to kidney problems, and increase the risk of contracting cancer. It can even lead to electrolyte abnormalities and is not advised for those with heart disease. Pregnant and breastfeeding women and those requiring surgery must avoid aloe vera products. Always consult a doctor when using aloe vera for cold sores.