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Be it a pimple or a cold sore, when you wake up in the morning with a big red bump on your face, it ruins your day, right?

This article provides clarity on both these skin diseases that affect almost all people at some point. Caused usually by a pitta and kapha imbalance, both these skin diseases have similar appearances but need to be treated differently.

Our Ayurvedic Doctor Says

Cold sores in Ayurveda are classified under Visarpa, while acne is Youvana Pidika (boils of the young). Cold sores generally present themselves after an event that weakens the immune system, like an infection, stress, deficiencies, etc. Acne, on the other hand, in most cases is hormone-linked.

-Dr. Zeel Gandhi (Bachelor Of Ayurveda, Medicine & Surgery), Chief Ayurvedic Doctor, Vedix

Is It A Pimple Or A Cold Sore?

Although cold sores and pimples are two very different skin diseases, they look very similar. Identifying them correctly is important, because their treatments are very different.

Cold sores are a viral infection caused by the herpes simplex virus, HSV-1 or HSV-2. This is a very common virus and affects almost 70% of people but does not always show any symptoms or breakouts. People are affected by cold sores in later stages of life, mostly from 14-49 years of age.

Cold sores usually heal within 2-4 weeks, leaving behind a stubborn scar sometimes. In rare cases, a cold sore can spread to your eyes and damage your cornea. [1]

Pimples are a reaction that your skin has when its pores get blocked. Pores are openings on your skin through which the excess oils and sweat from your body are released. When pores get blocked by dirt, a red, raised blemish may appear as a reaction, which is acne.

People often get acne at the early stages of life from 11-30 years of age. Even if you did not get pimples in your teenage years, you can still get them in your 30s. [2]

What Do Cold Sores And Pimples Look Like?

Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix says, “Cold sores in Ayurveda are classified under Visarpa, while acne is Youvana Pidika (boils of the young). Cold sores generally present themselves after an event that weakens the immune system, like an infection, stress, deficiencies etc. Acne, on the other hand, in most cases is hormone-linked.”

To know the difference, here is what they look like:

1. Cold Sores

beautiful lips virus infected herpes

  • Cold sores appear as clusters of blisters that are red in color and they can also burst and ooze fluid.
  • These appear around the lips, nostrils, chin, and sometimes around the eyes. They may also appear directly on top of your lips.
  • You will often experience a tingling or burning sensation on your cold sore and you may also experience itching. With time, the irritation may increase and turn into throbbing pain.
  • Cold sores are contagious and spread from one person to another through shared utensils, drinking from the same bottle, or through sexual intimacy.

2. Pimples

Teen girl with acne problem squeezing pimple

  • Pimples can occur all over your face, but when they appear around your lips they look very similar to cold sores.
  • Pimples never occur directly on your lips, only around them.
  • Pimples appear like a red bump and not a blister. With time the bump may grow a whitehead.
  • Pimples are not contagious.

How Are Cold Sores And Pimples Diagnosed?

In case of cold sores, your dermatologist will probably be able to tell if you have a cold sore by looking at the affected area. He or she may also swab the cold sore to test the fluid for the herpes simplex virus.

While you can self-diagnose mild acne, consult a dermatologist for a thorough physical examination. Your doctor may ask you for information about your breakouts, such as when they occur and how long you've had them.

What Causes Cold Sores?

  • HSV-1 is the main cause of cold sores. This virus can also cause genital herpes.
  • HSV-2 virus also causes cold sores and oral herpes. [3]
  • Once you get in contact with the above-mentioned viruses, they remain inside your body forever, but outbreaks like cold sores happen only once or twice.
  • Hormonal changes that women go through during menstruation can also trigger a cold sore.
  • Weather changes and extreme heat are other triggers.
  • Stress and extreme tiredness can also be a cause.

How To Get Rid Of Cold Sores?

According to Ayurveda, ahar (diet) and vihar (lifestyle) play a huge role in the treatment of cold sores.

  • Include fruits and vegetables that are bitter in taste and rich in iron, like drumsticks, spinach, prickly amarnath, coriander leaves, amla, grapes, etc.
  • Keep yourself hydrated, especially with coconut water.
  • Avoid hot and spicy food and beverages like tea, coffee.
  • Avoid pickles and sour fruits.
  • Do not skip meals.
  • Include less sour yogurt in your meals to keep your immune system healthy.
  • Have light and mildly sweet foods every other day.
  • You can directly apply tiktaka ghritam which is bitter herbal ghee prepared for skin diseases.
  • You can also apply a paste of neem powder mixed with rose water on your cold sore.
  • You can consume Ayurvedic concoctions like yashtimadhu and triphala kashayam, kamadugha rasa or guduchi.
  • Maintain healthy oral hygiene and rinse your mouth with saltwater.
  • Cold sores can get triggered by constipation, so take care of your bowels by including triphala choorna in your meals.
  • Gently rub an ice cube on your cold sore every now and then.
  • Nasya karma or taking nasal medicines instead of oral medicines can be useful.
  • Follow the Ayurvedic practice of swirling and holding Ayurvedic and medicated oils and concoctions in your mouth for an advised period of time. Consult your doctor.
  • You can also use over-the-counter medications as prescribed by your dermatologist, for fast treatment.
  • If your cold sore is becoming dry, apply lip balm on it. Keeping it moist prevents painful splitting. Make sure to use a cotton pad for application.

How To Prevent Cold Sores?

  • Do not touch your cold sore with bare hands.
  • Do not pop the blisters and let them burst in their own time.
  • Don’t share towels, razors, dishes, cutlery, straws, lip balm or lipstick with anyone irrespective of whether they have a cold sore or not
  • Wash your hands before touching your lips, eyes or genitals.

What Causes Pimples?

  • Hormonal changes during puberty can make your skin excessively oily and trigger pimples. [4]
  • Bacterial infections due to clogged pores can cause pimples.
  • Menstruating women can get these.
  • Women during their pregnancy can get pimples.
  • Women suffering from PCOS can get these all through their life.
  • Pimples can appear as a side effect for certain birth control pills and steroids.
  • Overuse of chemical cosmetics on your face is another reason.

How To Remove Pimples?

1. Herbs That Treat Pimples

Ayurvedic herbs like manjistha, kushta, chandana, saariba, turmeric, lodhra and shalmali are used in various homemade remedies and skincare products to treat acne. Other herbs like khas-khas, jatiphal and blood purifiers like neem and guduchi can also help in curing or preventing pimples.

2. Treatments

A. Nasya

Various healing Ayurvedic herbs like eucalyptus, brahmi, skullcap and calamus are prepared into a medicated oil. Then the person suffering from pimples is made to lie down on a straight surface with their head tilting backward. A few drops of this oil are poured into their nostrils. Now the person needs to take a good sniff so that the oil fully enters the nasal passage.

B. Virechana

This is also known as the Ayurvedic detoxification of the body and the mind. Virechana therapy is a part of the panchkarma in Ayurveda that deals with the elimination of toxins from the body by using herbal laxatives. [5]

C. Raktamokshan

This is an Ayurvedic process in which the polluted or toxic blood is removed from the body.

  • In the procedure firstly the whole body is steamed.
  • Then the patient is asked to lie comfortably over a bed and the air cuff of a sphygmomanometer is tied over the bicep muscle of the hand.
  • The patient clenches his fist tightly. Then the cuff is inflated and the desired vein is punctured with a sterilized needle.
  • The cuff is removed and the blood is collected in a sufficient quantity. Lastly, a cotton swab is pressed over the wound, which may be covered with a wet cloth or a thin paste of cooling dravya like chandan may be applied.

How Can You Prevent Pimples?

  • Do not pop or squeeze your pimples, as it can lead to permanent scars and more pimples.
  • Apply cold press or ice cubes on your face every now and then especially during summers.
  • Use dermatologist-prescribed over-the-counter medications if needed.
  • Avoid spicy and oily foods.
  • Always wash your face after coming home.
  • Use cold water to wash your face.
  • If you already have a kapha dominant skin, do not use thick and oil-based moisturizers.

The Last Word

Both cold sores and pimples require you to visit a dermatologist firstly for the correct diagnosis and secondly for proper treatment. Even though Ayurvedic solutions are very helpful and have the least amount of side effects, in some cases OTC medicines and ozone treatments are necessary.

If your cold sore is not healing itself in 2 weeks make sure to get it checked repeatedly as it can become severe and affect your eyes if you have a weak immune system. Pimples are not that severe but can leave behind a stubborn mark if not treated properly and in time. Know Your Dosha Now

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