Zinc is an essential micronutrient that plays vital roles in the human body. Zinc is essential for the normal functioning of more than 300 enzymes. Zinc acts as a cofactor for enzymes required for cell membrane repair, cell proliferation, growth, and immune system function.1
Zinc is an important constituent of skin. The skin contains relatively high zinc content, primarily within the epidermis. Due to the abundance of Zinc in the epidermis, even mild zinc deficiency may lead to roughened skin and impaired wound healing.1
The process involving wound healing, inflammation, and immune response are interlinked. Experts show that Zinc is capable of modulating both innate and adaptive immune functions. Zinc regulates immune responses in several ways ranging from myeloid-derived cells and inflammatory signaling to lymphocyte differentiation and antibody production.1
The role of Zinc Oxide in Cold Sores
Zinc oxide (ZnO) is an inorganic compound used in a variety of other skin products. Zinc oxide’s usefulness is due to the multifunctional profile of Zinc, which is an essential component of the human body.
Zinc oxide has antiviral, healing, and protective properties and hence is a good treatment option for cold sores. Cold sores or Herpes labialis are caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). Herpes labialis presents as a rash of the skin and mucous membranes, especially the lips. Herpes labialis is characterized by erythema (redness of the skin or mucous membranes) and blisters. Apart from erythema and blisters, herpes labialis is accompanied by burning pain, causing significant irritation and discomfort.2,3
The effect of Zinc on HSV-1 and -2 has been studied for decades, with studies suggesting that Zinc’s affects the virus in every point of the viral life cycle – viral polymerase function, protein production and processing, and free virus inactivation.4
In in-vitro (test-tube) studies demonstrate that zinc ions inhibit the replication of HSV-1, hampering their development. Scientists found that zinc ions selectively inhibit the enzyme DNA polymerase, a key enzyme required for viral replication and transcription. At a concentration of just 0.1 mM, zinc ions were found to inhibit the virus’s replication completely.5,6
Apart from in-vitro studies, studies in mice and humans have also demonstrated a significant reduction of infection and disease burden with zinc oxide. Several human studies involving topical zinc application demonstrated a significantly reduced recurrence and duration of infection. The studies with topical zinc oxide showed that free Zinc might coat HSV virion (single virus particle) and prevent infection by inhibiting virion glycoprotein function.3,7
Apart from viral infections, topical zinc oxide also decreases rates of bacterial infection. Rather than being directly toxic to the bacteria, the anti-bacterial mechanism of zinc oxide is mediated via local defense systems.8
Other compounds found in honey that contribute to its antimicrobial activity include bee defensin-1, phenolic compounds, and complex carbohydrates; these compounds are responsible for bacteria’s inability to develop resistance to honey, contrary to the rapid induction of resistance observed with the antibiotics.3
Studies show that topical zinc oxide cream may shorten the duration of cold sores. A 2001 study found that cold sores treated with zinc oxide disappeared sooner than those treated with placebo. Zinc oxide also reduced symptoms such as blistering, soreness, itching, and tingling. In the study conducted in 46 herpes labialis patients, the zinc oxide and glycine cream was applied every 2 hours during the day, starting as soon as possible after the first symptoms appeared and continued until the complaints disappeared. The time until recovery was 5.0 days in patients who received prompt treatment with zinc oxide and glycine cream, while the recovery period was 6.5 days in placebo.3
In another study, people who used a topical formulation with zinc oxide, l-lysine, and 14 other ingredients saw a decrease in symptoms and duration of cold sore lesions. The study, which included 30 patients, evaluated the effect of the product on cold sore symptoms. Symptoms studied included tingling, itching, burning, tenderness, prickling, soreness, bump/swelling, small blister, oozing blister, and crusting. The study found that by day 6, 87% of patients were cured, and by day 11, all participants were cured.9
Topical application of Ubiquinol-10 helps to block the biological pathways that cause inflammation. In the groups treated with Ubiquinol-10, inflammation was lowered, the healing time was reduced, and collagen production was increased.9
Coenzyme Q10 appears to have a cutaneous healing effect. A study on mice found that collagen-like polymer (CLP) level of group treated with coenzyme Q10 was increased significantly compared to the control group. Also, CoQ10 group showed significant inhibition on inflammatory markers, myeloperoxidase and phospholipase A2, compared to the control group. These data show that CoQ10 may have an anti-inflammatory and a wound healing effect.10
A very well-known property of zinc oxide is its healing capacity. The topical use of zinc oxide has been shown to improve the rate of wound healing in patients, regardless of their zinc status.8
Zinc oxide provides a prolonged supply of Zinc to wounds and hence promotes its healing. The benefits of Zinc in wound healing are supported by reports of delayed wound healing in patients with zinc deficiency. When these Zinc deficient patients were supplemented with zinc therapy, normalization of the wound healing mechanisms was observed. 8
Topical zinc oxide increases wound healing and reepithelialization. Reepithelialization describes the coating of a wound with new epithelium. The various processes associated with the initiation, maintenance, and completion of epithelialization are essential for proper wound closure.8
Zinc oxide also increases collagen degradation in necrotic wounds. Zinc oxide enhances the ability of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) to break down collagen fragments enzymatically.8
Apart from healing properties, zinc oxide has astringent, soothing, and protective properties and hence is a key ingredient in skin products for eczema, slight excoriations, wounds, and hemorrhoids. Zinc oxide provides a physical barrier, which helps prevent skin irritation and helps heal damaged skin.10
- Lin PH, Sermersheim M, Li H, et al. Zinc in Wound Healing Modulation. Nutrients. 2017;10(1):16.
- Opstelten W, Neven AK, Eekhof J. Treatment and prevention of herpes labialis. Can Fam Physician. 2008;54(12):1683-1687.
- Godfrey HR, Godfrey NJ, Godfrey JC, et al. A randomized clinical trial on the treatment of oral herpes with topical zinc oxide/glycine. Altern Ther Health Med. 2001;7(3):49-56.
- Read SA, Obeid S, Ahlenstiel C, et al. The Role of Zinc in Antiviral Immunity. Adv Nutr. 2019;10(4):696-710.
- Shlomai J, Asher Y, Gordon YJ, et al. Effect of zinc ions on the synthesis of Herpes simplex virus DNA in infected BSC-1 cells. Virology 1975;66:330-335.
- Fridlender B, Chejanovsky N, Becker Y. Selective inhibition of Herpes simplex virus type I DNA polymerase by zinc ions. Virology 1978;84:551- 554.
- Arens M, Travis S. Zinc salts inactivate clinical isolates of herpes simplex virus in vitro. J Clin Microbiol. 2000;38(5):1758-1762.
- Agren MS. Studies on zinc in wound healing. Acta Derm Venereol Suppl (Stockh). 1990;154:1-36.
- Singh BB, Udani J, Vinjamury SP, et al. Safety and effectiveness of an L-lysine, zinc, and herbal-based product on the treatment of facial and circumoral herpes. Altern Med Rev. 2005;10(2):123-127.
- National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Summary for CID 14806, Zinc oxide. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Zinc-oxide. Accessed Oct. 2, 2020.
Life Is Smiles
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herlip™ Cold Sore Rapid Relief Gel – 8x Multi-Action Formula for Cold Sores
The Future of Cold Sore Treatment
herlip™ cold sore rapid relief gel is an 8x multi-action formula used for rapidly treating the symptoms and signs associated with cold sores. The result of 6 years of research and development, this unique eco-friendly antiviral product with 30+ naturally-sourced ingredients, soothes, treats, and rapidly improves cold sores.
Packed with fast-acting ingredients and zero harsh chemicals, herlip™ cold sore rapid relief gel is the safe, effective choice for cold sore management. herlip™ cold sore rapid relief gel contains a unique combination of nine (9) active ingredients:
- Leptospermum Australian Manuka honey 50mg/g,
- Zinc Oxide 38mg/g,
- Lysine 14.9mg/g,
- Propolis Liquid Extract 12mg/g,
- Melissa Officinalis 10.5mg/g,
- Glycine 10mg/g,
- Menthol 1.2mg/g,
- Folic Acid (Vitamin B9) 1mg/g
- Ubiquinol-10 (CoQ10) 500 Microgram/g
Our 8x multi-action formula is unlike any other on the market. It simultaneously provides; antiviral action against HSV-1, assistance with wound healing, relief by soothing and cooling the area, acting as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory, giving an anti-itch effect, and, finally, moisturizing the affected area.