The holidays are here and while we love the xmas markets, festive drinks, and merrymaking; dropping temps and holiday stress also open the door for those extremely unwelcome, fun-disrupting non-friends known as cold sores. If you’re a cold-sore-haver, you know the drill. The weather drops, you’re frantically running around trying to find that perfect xmas gift so you can wrap it and send it to your cross-country relatives, and suddenly you get that dreaded tingly, itchy feeling on your lip that signals your least favorite friend is on its way.
Why does this happen? What causes cold sores?
Cold sores are caused by the Herpes simplex virus. Unfortunately once you contract the herpes simplex virus, it settles into its forever home, completely unaware it’s an unwelcome houseguest. Then, once it’s moved in, it’s the most edgy, high maintenance visitor - erupting at the slightest inconvenience (not someone you’d invite back). Things that set off the neurotic cold sore:
If you get cold sores, you know the mind-body connection is real and that stress is usually the main trigger for cold sores. Why? Mental, emotional, and physical stress drag down our immune system and bring cold sores out of hibernation.
The cold sore virus lives in your nerve endings which are very sensitive to changes in the environment. The combination of cold air outside and artificial heat inside dries out your lips and can irritate the virus into replicating.
As much as we love soaking up the sun, cold sores are not a fan (I mean, not surprisingly considering their fun-adverse nature). Too much UV exposure can irritate and inflame your lips, luring the cold sore virus out into the open.
The cure: a hydrating, sun-shielding lip balm (keep reading to find your new holy grail lip balm).
Cuts on your mouth
Tiny cuts, scrapes or even bruises on the lips can set off the moody cold sore virus and cause an outbreak. Basically, any unwelcome change in its environment is a potential trigger.
Just like stress, not enough sleep lowers the immune system and weakens your body’s ability to fight the cold sore virus.
Cold, flu, or infection
When your body is busy fighting off a virus or infection, its capacity to keep the cold sore virus at bay drops dramatically. Because it has to take its eyes off the cold sore trouble to tend to another internal fire, chaos ensues.
Arginine-rich foods like chocolate, dairy, meat, and beans can trigger or exacerbate a cold sore. Why? Herpes Simplex 1 needs arginine in order to replicate, and while usually the body can keep it at bay, eating these foods alongside any of the above situations can create a cold sore flare-up.
The cure: cold sore treatment with lemon balm
Our favorite of all cold sore remedies: lemon balm. Countless studies have shown that lemon balm is incredibly effective at preventing and treating cold sores - think reduced healing time, lowered infection spread, and a “rapid effect on typical symptoms”.
How? lemon balm has strong antiviral action against the Herpes simplex 1 virus and helps shorten the healing time of a cold sore (often dramatically). Lemon balm is also known for its calming, anti-anxiety properties which helps relax the nervous system and allows the body to heal itself.
How to use lemon balm for cold sores
Regardless of how you apply or ingest your lemon balm, the most effective way to say goodbye to cold sores is to take preventative measures, and if you do feel those dreaded cold-sore-signaling tingles, hit it with some lemon balm as quickly as you can.
Studies have shown that the faster you tend to your cold sore outbreak, the quicker it will heal (or not turn into an active cold sore at all).
Method 1: Lemon Balm Lip Balm
Our sustainably-sourced, 100% natural Lavender Lemon Balm Lip Balm is a cult-fave for a reason - not only does it smell delicious, it’s incredibly effective at preventing and treating cold sores.
Deeply hydrating and hand-crafted with both organic infused lemon balm oil and organic lemon balm essential oil, it’s a highly concentrated cure for cold sores.
Lemon balm alone is powerful, but when combined with these other wildcrafted botanicals found in our bestselling lip balm formula, the effect is multiplied:
Lavender essential oils and St. John’s Wort: both anti-inflammatory healing herbs, a 2020 case report showed that lemon balm alongside both lavender and St. John’s worked “as an effective and rapid-acting alternative to OTC cold sore medications.” Lavender and lemon balm also have a calming aromatherapy effect to help ease stress that caused the sore in the first place.
Beeswax: deeply hydrating, beeswax also acts as a carrier to transport the lemon balm and other active ingredients directly to the source of the sore.
Comfrey: a super soothing herb, comfrey is rich in allantoin and fatty acids which encourage cell growth and tissue regeneration for a faster healing process.
Red Raspberry Oil and Cocoa Butter: help protect the lips from sun damage, which can cause an unwelcome flare up.
Beyond the essential oils, our lip balm is deeply hydrating and nourishing. If you’re had a few cold sores in your day, you know moisture is your friend to prevent cold sores from waking up cranky.
How to use it: apply everyday to prevent outbreaks. If you do happen to get one from a perfect storm of stress, insomnia, cuts, or a cold, it will help that cold sore heal up pronto.
Method 2: Lemon balm tea or tincture
While our lip balm is an ultra-effective topical treatment, you can also ingest lemon balm to help prevent cold sore outbreaks and speed healing. Typically used in herbal medicine to reduce anxiety and promote sleep, these deliciously fresh tasting elixirs take care of more than one possible cause of cold sores by calming your nervous system and allowing you to rest. And who doesn’t want to feel calmer and sleep better - cold sore or not?!
Other natural cold sore remedies
Tea Tree Oil: some studies have shown that tea tree oil can speed the healing of sores caused by the herpes virus. Dilute with a carrier oil and apply directly to the cold sore.
Peppermint Oil: with antiseptic properties, peppermint oil can help calm cold sore symptoms and offer mild pain relief. Dilute with a carrier oil before applying.
Want to shop or learn more about our bestselling Lavender Lemon Balm Lip Balm? Click here for your sustainable, 100% natural cold sore cure.
Packaged with FSC post consumer recycled, home-compostable tubes, both your lips and the planet will thank you. Oh, and every lip balm purchased saves a baby sea turtle (we've saved 79,613 turtles so far, thanks to you!)