Cold sores are eyesores, not to mention painful and highly contagious. Kissing someone who has a cold sore is usually a surefire way to get one of your own, or they erupt from a number of triggers, including chewing tobacco and injuries in the mouth area from braces, ill-fitting dentures, jagged teeth, biting your tongue, lip or teeth, and burns from scalding food. Baking soda can offer relief.
Herpes simplex virus type 1 is the culprit behind cold sores, MayoClinic.com says. Also known as fever blisters, cold sores usually start off as a tingling in your lip area, followed by a blister-like lesion that ends up pumped with fluid. Since the herpes virus often lives in your body without any outward symptoms, cold sores can lurk waiting to pop up when triggered by an outside source.
Baking Soda for Cold Sores
Baking soda can alleviate some of the pain and discomfort of cold sores, the Baking Soda Book notes. Treatment involves placing a small dab of water on a small amount of baking soda to make a thick paste. Dab the paste on your cold sore, leaving it in stuck to the lesion for 10 minutes or so, then rinse very gently. Scrubbing or picking at the sore will only aggravate it. Although MayoClinic.com says cold sores last anywhere from 10 to 20 days, and you have no way to make them go away quicker, the Baking Soda Book says the baking soda treatment will make them heal faster.
Baking Soda for Canker Sores
The same type of baking soda remedy also works for canker sores, MedlinePlus notes, although its instructions do not say to rinse the paste off the canker sore once you've applied it. Canker sores last about a week or two and show up inside the mouth and around the gums, unlike cold sores that usually pop up on the outer lips. No one is exactly sure what causes canker sores, yet theories include a weakened immune system during the cold, flu or other temporary condition, changes in hormones, stress, a virus, an underlying medical condition and low levels of folate, or vitamin B-12.
Baking Soda for Other Mouth Treatments
Baking soda is not just for cold sores but can help out in other areas around your mouth, the Baking Soda Book says. Mix a bit of baking soda with your toothpaste to make your teeth whiter and breath fresher. Use baking soda straight up as toothpaste, forgoing the store brands altogether, by mixing 2 tbsp. baking soda with 1 tbsp. peroxide. Soaking your toothbrush in a baking soda and water mixture kills off germs, especially after a cold or cold sore.
Other Cold Sore Remedies
If baking soda is not your thing, you have other options to alleviate some of the cold sore pain, MayoClinic.com says. Over-the-counter topical treatments like lidocaine or benzocaine often work, as do over-the-counter pain relievers. Applying a hot or cold compress to the cold sore, with a washcloth drenched in warm water or wrapped around ice, also often helps.