I usually get 2 different types of cold sores. The first type is the small annoying manageable kind. These I can usually treat with constant Abreva smearing and popping Advils (to reduce swelling). They're not such a big deal. I noticed these types when I eat a lot of strawberries, citrus fruits, BBQ sauce, or other acidic stuff. Also, over-exposure to the sun or chapped lips will give me these types or cold sores.
The second type is the full blown whopper of a cold sore (and the reason we're all online looking this stuff up!!). I tend to get these after a sickness or stressful times. When my body's defenses are down these little buggers come out in full force, laughing all the way... they're the most painful and most embarassing types. They cause your lip to double in size, glands to swell in your neck, and of course that hot painful throbbing feeling. Not fun, and did I mention they are horrendously ugly!! Anyway, I found the usual Abreva smearing doesn't cut it in these cases (I have to pull out the big guns). Here is the plan I follow. Remember the disclaimer, I am not a doctor, blah blah...this is just what works for me. I hope it works for you too!!
Day 1-- The tingles...the redness....and finally the dreaded little blisters:
1. At the first tingle, rub on Abreva (or your OTC ointment of choice).
2. Take 3000mg of L-lycine tablets (space them out before meals) and also take Advil as needed throughout the day to reduce the swelling and pain.
3. When the little blisters finally appear and the lip starts to swell, pop them with a sterile needle and drain as much fluid out as possible.
4. Then apply a home-made salt paste: 1 tablespoon regular table salt and 1 tablespoon of warm water (just enough to dissolve the salt). Spread the mixture on the sore with a Q-tip and let it dry until it gets nice and crusty.
5. Rinse off and repeat a couple more times. It will sting and feel itchy. That's fine. It's doing it's thing!
6. When you're done, put the Abreva back on and just wait. Don't play with it because the skin is very sensitive now.
Day 2-- The swelling should be reduced by half (or more) by now:
1. Take another 3000mg of L-lycine and Advil throughout the day as needed.
2. When you get out of the shower the lip is usually soft and "opened" up. Take a Q-tip and blot some peroxide onto the sore. You don't want all that playing with it the day before to lead to infection. The peroxide should prevent that from happening.
3. When that dries, put the Abreva back on and maintain it throughout the day.
Day 3-- Back to normal size and hardly any pain, yeah! (If you aren't at this stage then repeat Day 2 activities, sorry.)
1. Do the "peroxide Q-tip blot" after the shower again.
2. Pat it dry this time and take a look at it. Can you see the new flesh poking through? Is the old flesh white or yellow? Is it separating and starting to peel off? DON'T PEEL IT OFF! This will make it bleed, and it slows the healing, and worst of all it will SCAR!!
3. Apply hydrocortisone 1% gel (or ointment) throughout the day and keep it moist. This will speed up the healing time.
Day 4, 5, and so on -- Continue with the hydrocortisone until completely healed. Good luck!!