Cold sores (sometimes called fever blisters) are tiny fluid-filled blisters which typically form in a cluster, usually at the edge of the bottom lip.
They are caused by certain strains of the herpes simplex virus. In the United States, the prevalence of herpes simplex virus type 1 is around 49 percent.
This virus can spread from one person to another through sharing of towels, eating utensils, razors, kissing, and oral sex.
Cold sores commonly heal in 2 to 4 weeks without leaving a scar. If you see your doctor for your cold sores, he may prescribe an anti-inflammatory drug, a pain medication, or asteroid gel.
Here is a comparison between tea tree oil and Abreva, two remedies for cold sores:
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is an essential oil which is distilled from the leaves of the native Australian plant (botanical name – Melaleuca alternifolia).
Tea tree essential oil is also known for its antiseptic properties that help reduce an infection. As a topical antiseptic, tea tree oil is slightly less effective than benzoyl peroxide in treating skin issues, although with fewer side effects, according to a randomized control trial of a 5 percent tea tree oil lotion.
In addition, its potent microbial activity has been effective against species including Staphylococcus aureus and Propionibacterium acnes.
The concentrations of tea tree essential oil found in commercially available products range from 2 to 5 percent. Terpinen-4-ol is the primary antimicrobial component, however, other components, like – α-terpineol, also have strong antimicrobial properties similar to those of terpinen-4-ol.
Using Tea Tree Oil for Cold Sores
- add a few drops of the essential oil to the water and mix well;
- soak a cotton pad in this mixture and apply it to the affected area.
- to prevent sun damage, always use sun protection the day after using tea tree essential oil;
- do a patch test before applying this oil to your face or other large areas of skin;
- tea tree oil is only to be used as a topical remedy and it should never be ingested.
According to studies, this medicine healed on average one day faster than the placebo group.
Note – for the best results, it is recommended to apply the cream at the first sign of a bump, tingle or itch. Also, it can be used on the lips, anywhere around the mouth, or on the face.
The active ingredient in this formula is docosanol, a type of antiviral medication, which works by changing the cell wall of nearby healthy cells. By doing this, it shortens the healing time and soothes the burning and itching sensation.
The inactive ingredients in this product include:
- sucrose stearate – it is an emulsifier that works both in a cold or hot process and creates light emulsions with a very low viscosity;
- purified water – it is a type of water which comes from any source, however, it has been purified to remove any contaminants or chemicals;
- propylene glycol – it is a colorless, slightly syrupy liquid which is a little thicker than water. This substance is found in a variety of processed food products as well as a large number of cosmetic products;
- mineral oil – it is an inexpensive byproduct of refining crude oil to make gasoline and petroleum products;
- benzyl alcohol – it is used as a preservative and as a fragrance ingredient.
Bottom Line – Tea Tree Oil vs Abreva
Tea tree oil is derived from Melaleuca alternifolia, a plant native to Australia. It is known to have potent antiseptic properties. It may prevent bacterial infection as well as it might encourage the natural healing process by drying out the cold sore. According to research, tea tree essential oil is reported as a natural, safe, and effective agent. 10 ml of pure essential oil is around $6.
Abreva is a non-prescription medicine that is used for treating cold sores. It lessens healing time and reduces the occurrence of symptoms, like – itching, tingling, and pain.
According to the manufacturer, ”its formulation penetrates deep to help knock out the cold sore in approximately 2½ days.” This non-prescription medicine works best when applied at the first signs of infection. One tube of the cream costs around $29.95.
In conclusion, both products are effective for cold sores, but Abreva is backed by studies, whereas the tea tree oil is a natural product that has no side effects as well as it is substantially cheaper.
Other Natural Remedies For Cold Sores
It is proven to contain antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties that can greatly help to treat fever blisters.
As this amino acid may interfere with the absorption of arginine in the intestine (which scientists believe that may cause cold sores), taking lysine in pill form may help to prevent cold sores from occurring. Recommended doses range from 500 to 3,000 milligrams per day.
Lemon balm may help reduce the swelling and redness associated with a blister.
It is an immune booster, which is best consumed in tea or supplement form.
Vitamin E has been found to relieve the painful discomfort of cold sores, while vitamin C has been shown to boost white blood cell count, which are the body’s defenders.
A cold sore is contagious as soon as symptoms begin. To avoid spreading the cold sore virus, it is recommended to:
- apply sunscreen to the area where cold sores develop if sunlight triggers cold sores;
- wash your hands each time you touch or apply ointment to the sore;
- don’t pick at a cold sore;
- replace your toothbrush when you get a cold sore and replace it again after the sore has healed;
- don’t share cosmetics, like – lip gloss, lipstick, or foundation;
- don’t share personal care items, like – towels, utensils, or toothbrushes;
- avoid intimate contact including kissing until the lesion is healed.