If you are fond of using home remedies, apple cider vinegar for cold sores is a good natural remedy worth trying.
Cold sores, also known as fevers blisters, are a common viral infection that many people suffer occasionally.
Usually, it takes up to 2 weeks for the cold sores to heal completely.
You can find several medications like OTC creams, ointments, prescription pills, or home remedies for curing cold sores.
However, those medications mostly help in suppressing the symptoms of cold sores. The Herpes Simplex virus can remain dormant in your skin tissues potentially dangerous for many weeks or months.
Instead of using prescription medicines, which have side effects on health, it is safe and effective to use natural remedies.
One of the best natural treatments for cold sores or fever blisters is apple cider vinegar.
Let’s have a look at the benefits of using apple cider vinegar for relieving the symptoms of cold sores.
What are Cold Sores?
Cold sores are small fluid-filled blisters that develop around the mouth or on the lips (1).
In some cases, fever blisters may also appear inside the mouth, on face, nose or fingers.
Cold sores blisters are contagious viral infection (2).
This infection, usually, clears itself within 7 to 12 days without treatment.
However, the HSV-1 virus that causes the infection can remain lodged in the body for a long period. For this reason, a recurring occurrence of cold sores may happen two or three times a year on average (3).
According to a study, it was estimated that 3709 million people (range: 3440–3878 million) aged 0–49 years had a prevalent HSV-1 infection in 2012 (67%).
Infants are highly vulnerable to the attack of HSV-1 infection.
Causes Leading To Cold Sores
HSV-1 can stay in the human body in a dormant stage for a long period without causing infection.
However, this virus can become active when your immune system has become weak or when other infections occur.
Some of the triggers are such as (5):
- Illness and other infections
- Emotional stress
- Skin trauma
- Prolonged exposure to the sun.
Symptoms And Appearance of Cold Sores
They are fluid-filled blisters that usually appear on lips and around the mouth. In rare cases, they might also appear on fingers, face, neck, or inside the mouth.
Fever blisters may appear as a single blister or in clusters.
Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits
Apple cider vinegar is known for its several health benefits.
ACV is also a commonly used home remedy for fighting various types of microbial infections on the skin, nails, and scalp.
Apple cider vinegar is can also work wonders in making your hair healthy and beautiful.
It has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties that can easily heal and ward off common infections.
This vinegar is also loaded with critical nutrients that boost the immune system of the body to defend against microbial infections.
The antioxidant elements in the ACV lower the risk of common infections like the herpes issue in question.
The antiseptic properties in it also prevent the virus from spreading beyond the problematic sore. This serves to quarantine the virus.
ACV promotes pH level of the skin which is necessary for the prevention and healing of inflammation on the skin like the blisters and wounds.
Does Apple Cider Vinegar for Cold Sores work?
Curing cold sores with OTC medicines or prescription medication is easy. But if you continue to take such medicines for a long period, they can have ill effects on health.
Apple cider vinegar is an adequate natural remedy that helps in reducing the symptoms of cold sores.
Many people extensively use ACV as an excellent overnight remedy for managing cold sores.
The antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties of ACV relieve the pain caused by the blisters and reduce the bumps.
ACV balances the pH levels of the skin. Having a balanced pH level in the body can help reduce the eruption of blisters and faster drying of sores.
The essential nutrients in ACV enhance the immune system of the body to fight against the pathogens.
The acid content in ACV, especially acetic acid, can prevent viral infections like cold sores by eliminating the pathogens.
Antioxidants in apple cider vinegar are useful for reducing inflammation and blisters caused by herpes.
Arguments against using ACV for Cold Sores
A few of the natural therapists and researchers do not agree with using apple cider vinegar treatment for cold sores.
Direct application of ACV on sores will cause stinging sensation quite unbearable for many.
Cold sores may get worse in an alkaline environment. Raw ACV is the only vinegar that is alkaline-forming to the body. All the other vinegar are acid-forming. In such case, ingesting raw ACV may not be good for people who already have the required level alkaline in the body.
Cold sores make the skin tissues in the affected area less tolerant of harsh substances like acid. Local application of apple cider vinegar that contains more than 5% acidity may cause burns on lips and skin.
How to use Apple Cider Vinegar for Cold Sores?
It is simple and easy to use ACV for fever blisters and herpes.
Ingesting ACV help to prevent the occurrence of herpes.
Applying ACV on blisters caused by herpes help in relieving the symptoms of the infections.
Let us now look at two methods in detail.
Ingesting Apple Cider Vinegar
Consuming ACV as a diet supplement is becoming popular day by day.
Ingesting a tablespoon ACV daily has the following benefits in managing cold sores:
- improves the immune system;
- helps pH balance;
- fights pathogens (including herpes simplex) from within;
- detoxifies the body;
- improves blood circulation.
Tips for consuming ACV:
- Take one tablespoon of organic and unfiltered apple cider vinegar;
- Add the ACV to a cup of water;
- Consume the diluted ACV in an empty stomach or 30 minutes before the meal.
Acid contents in ACV can erode the enamel of the teeth. Make sure to thoroughly rinse the mouth and clean the teeth immediately after consuming ACV.
Topical Application of ACV to the Cold Sores
The topical treatment of cold sores with ACV helps in relieving the pain and itching caused by the infection.
Fluid-filled blisters caused by herpes begin to dry up faster with topical application of ACV.
Apple cider vinegar is a good cleaning solution that can remove the flakes and scabs formed in the healing process of the blisters.
Tips for Topical Treatment:
- Take two ounces of organic and unfiltered ACV in a bowl;
- Soak a cotton ball in the vinegar;
- Gently apply the ACV on the blisters affected area;
- After 10 minutes wash the ACV treated area with lukewarm water.
Other Methods of topical treatment with ACV
You can bandage the ACV-soaked cotton ball to the infected area and leave it there for a few hours.
After cleansing the ACV application on the skin, you can apply a few drops of diluted tea tree oil on the infected area of the skin for soothing and healing the blisters.
Tips, Warnings and Side Effects
As in the case of most treatments, natural or otherwise, some complications of the treatment can occur in a few patients.
Some of the patients’ skin may not tolerate the acid content in the vinegar.
If your skin is dry or sensitive, it is better to avoid the topical application of ACV for cold sores treatment.
Applying ACV directly on inflamed blisters will cause a stinging sensation and minor burns.
Make sure that the cotton balls or swabs you use on cold sores for applying ACV are sanitary. Lack of sanitation can aggravate or spread the infection.
Avoid applying the vinegar on open sores as this might aggravate the skin condition.
For treating cold sores, use raw, organic, unpasteurized and unfiltered apple cider vinegar which has the mother in it.
If you have sensitive skin, it is better to dilute the ACV before using it for topical application.
After you wash off the ACV treatment from the affected area, apply lip balm or moisturizer to prevent dryness and scales on the skin.
If you are using ACV for the first time, test a small quantity of this vinegar on a small area of the skin.
Is Apple Cider Vinegar Right for You?
It is your decision to choose the best treatments for cold sores.
The verdict on the effectiveness of using ACV treatment for fever blisters is relatively positive despite a few anecdotal disagreements.
If used properly, ACV may help you get relief from the symptoms of cold sores and herpes.
It is true that topical application ACV can create a stinging effect in the blister and cause pain for some time. But it helps in faster drying up of blisters and cleanses the scabs.
The acid content in ACV also acts as an antiviral agent that may help in eliminating the herpes virus which causes the infection.
If you want to get the best results from this treatment, you should be using the best quality ACV available.
As for our recommendation, you can use ACV for the healing of cold sores in addition to the prescription medicines you use.
Other Natural Remedies For Cold Sores
Besides the popular apple cider vinegar treatment, there are several other natural remedies for cold sores that are worth using. Here are a few home remedies you can try.
Lemon Balm: Using lemon balm for cold sore can reduce the swelling and redness associated with the infection (11).
Aloe Vera: Applying Aloe Vera gel help soothe the inflamed skin. It is also a good moisturizer that removes the scabs and scaling (12).
Vitamin E Supplement: Use natural creams that are infused with Vitamin E for topical application or ingest Vitamin E diet supplements. Vitamin E helps relieve pain and discomfort from sores. It is exceptionally beneficial for repairing the damaged skin and reducing inflammation (13,14).
Vitamin C Supplement: Make sure to have diets rich in Vitamin C. It boosts your immunity against the attacks of pathogens that cause infections. Vitamin C is also useful for the faster healing of the sores (15).
Ice Treatment: Doing a cold compress with ice packs reduces the pain and inflammation in the sore’s affected area.
Sunscreen Lotion: Protect the cold sores from the sun by applying sunscreen lotion with SPF 30 or above. Sunscreen lotion may help in faster healing of sores and prevent the future attacks of herpes simplex virus.
Peppermint Essential Oil: It is effective to use peppermint essential oil treatment for cold sores. This oil can inhibit the activities of HSV-1 and HSV-2 viruses.
Echinacea Tea: Drinking Echinacea herbal tea boosts your immune system, reduces inflammation and pain caused by cold sores.
Vanilla Oil: Apply vanilla oil or extract to the infected area. The anti-inflammatory and antiviral activities of vanilla help in reducing the symptoms of fever blisters.
Do not Scratch or Touch: Avoid touching and scratching of the sores. Scratching not only aggravates the sores but also causes the spread of the infection.
OTC and Prescription Medications
Usually, cold sores will take about 2 weeks of time to get completely healed despite the treatments and remedies you try.
However, you can reduce the symptoms of cold sores by using medications.
If you have recurrent outbreaks of the herpes virus infection several times in a year, your doctor may recommend regular use of antiviral medications.
Some of the prescription medications for cold sores are:
The Bottom Line
Apple cider vinegar for cold sores is a useful natural remedy worth using.
Many people have vouched for the effectiveness of ACV in managing microbial infections.
Consuming a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar daily can boost your immune system and help in eliminating pathogens from within the body.
The topical application of ACV to the virus-infected area can lead to faster healing of cold sores. It is also beneficial for relieving the symptoms of fever blisters and herpes.
However, natural remedies like ACV have their limitation. They will not produce the same results for every person who uses it.
If you have chronic and recurring cold sores breakout, you should seek the help of a doctor for treatment.
There is no proven scientific evidence that suggests the effectiveness of ACV in treating a microbial infection like herpes and fever blisters.
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