Cold sores are maybe the worst thing on the planet. If you’ve never had one, that might seem like an exaggeration. But if you have ever in your life suffered through the pain, embarrassment and general grossness that is a cold sore, you’ll know that finding quick and easy remedies is one of the single most important things on the planet.
So, cold sores are actually Herpes Simplex 1, which can be spread from person-to-person through close contact. (Feel free to freak your conservative roommate out by telling her you caught the herp.) And while you’re doing that, check out these ways to make sure that getting a cold sore doesn’t ruin your entire life.
1. Get a prescription.
Schedule an appointment with your general practitioner and tell him (or show him, if it hasn’t disappeared by the time you get there) that you’ve been dealing with cold sores. I can’t stress this enough—getting a prescription will change the way you think about cold sores. Most doctors will prescribe either Valtrex (yes, the medicine for genital herp) or Famvir. Take the recommended dose right when you notice a sore coming up and it will knock it right out! Famvir comes in a generic form, called famciclovir, and it runs about $7 a bottle with most insurances. This is the best way to make sure the cold sore doesn’t take over your life—because you won’t have one.
2. Buy Abreva—not the drugstore “equivalent.”
Abreva is the only FDA-approved over-the-counter treatment for cold sores. The CVS/Walgreens brand of “cold sore treatment” does not have the same active ingredient as Abreva. Rather, it has a numbing agent in it and should more be used to tame the pain, swelling and itching. However, if you buy a tube of Abreva and apply it frequently when you feel a cold sore coming on, it will sometimes stop it in its tracks, or at least shorten its life-cycle significantly.
3. Don’t put makeup on it.
I know, I know. We are all so guilty of this, but really. Don’t put makeup on your cold sore. It’s just going to irritate it. Instead, keep putting the Abreva on it. I know it’s unsightly and super embarrassing, but if you follow steps 1 and 2, you hopefully won’t need to worry about this. But if you do decide to break the rules and put makeup on, don’t leave it on for any longer than you have to, and use a gentle cleanser, like baby shampoo, to take it off. Additionally, Abreva does make a small patch that you can put over the cold sore and apply makeup over, but it hasn’t received the most stellar online reviews. Also, it’s non-medicated, so you’re missing out on valuable time to be applying Abreva.
4. Take Tylenol or Advil.
Taking a pain reliever like Tylenol or Advil will help cut down on inflammation, pain and swelling around the cold sore and make you a bit more comfortable. Some of the redness might even subside. Bonus: Try applying an ice pack to ease some of the pain and swelling.
5. Wash all your sheets and towels.
If you get a cold sore, make sure you wash all your sheets and towels after it’s gone, and don’t let anyone else use the same items you’re using, unless you’re trying to wreak havoc amongst your enemies. In that case, share the towel. But really—your partner, friends or family will catch the virus and then they will seriously hate you for it.
Nobody likes getting cold sores, but hopefully these tips will make your life a bit easier the next time one comes up. If you have any other tips, tweet us @litdarling!