Cold Sore Causes and Their Solutions
Are you one of the more than 40% of Americans who get cold sores (also known as fever blisters)? If so, you have probably tried countless ways to deal with these inflammatory viral nuisances whether it be with an over-the-counter remedy or a doctor prescribed medication. Maybe you are asking yourself, “what really works?”
If we are being honest, the best way to deal with cold sores is management, and, more specifically, the prevention, treatment, and elimination of the transmission of this annoying virus. Here’s how to do it.
Cold Sore Prevention
When it comes to cold sores, the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is very true so knowing what causes them to appear is key. The primary reason is a weakened immune system. To boost your immune system, be sure to get enough sleep, and try to find ways to combat stressors in your life. Consuming certain foods and being conscious of your diet will also give your immune system a leg up. Here are some good dietary suggestions for cold sore sufferers:
Eat Raw, Alkalizing Foods: Fruits and vegetables are so good for you. Enjoy as many of them as you like.
Beef-up On Cruciferous Vegetables: Clinical studies are starting to suggest that veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and kale are of great benefit to people who suffer from cold sores.
Avoid Arginine: Cold-sores need the amino acid arginine to grow, so if you can limit the excess intake of this amino acid, you may be able to keep frequent outbreaks at bay. Nuts, chocolate, oats, and some protein shakes are high in arginine and can be major cold-sore triggers.
Simply by getting regular, consistent rest and eating a well-balanced diet with the above suggestions in mind, you can help yourself avoid several breakouts a year.
The other big reason you may be getting such frequent cold sores is rapidly changing weather. And, if you have lived in Indiana for any amount of time, you can testify that we often experience all four season changes in the matter of days almost on a regular basis. To fight back against the changing weather always keep your preferred brand of lip moisturizer (we are partial to our Grin chapstick!) with sunscreen on hand to protect your lips from the weather’s effect on your lips. The sun, believe it or not, is also a trigger for the inflammatory virus that causes cold sore outbreaks, so anything that you can do to lessen your exposure (or overexposure) to the sun will also help.
Cold Sore Treatment and Remedies
The prevention of a cold sore appearing should absolutely be your primary target, and if you pay attention to what your body tells you, it is possible to reduce the number of your outbreaks. However, there will be those occasions when a cold sore will grace you with its presence, so here are a few things you can do to minimize its pain, size, and duration.
Ice It! Sounds weird, right? At the first sign of tingling, go grab an ice cube, wrap it in a paper towel, and place it on your lip where you feel the cold-sore coming on. Many times, a back-to-back application of an ice cube until it melts can dramatically reduce the pain and swelling that accompanies the sore. Remember, it’s an inflammatory virus that is causing it in the first place.
Slather It? Not Now, But Later. Cold sores exist in warm and moist environments which is precisely what you gift to a cold-sore when you slather it in cream for days on end. Your best bet is to dry to the point where it is no longer painful, and then you can apply cream or lip balm to minimize splitting. As the cold sore resolves itself, keep your lips moist to prevent bleeding. This will also aid in the healing process at this stage.
Eliminate Transmission of Cold Sore
Like any other virus, cold sores can spread when you come in contact with another person. Avoid sharing things like utensils, toothbrushes, chapstick, straws, or anything really that could come in contact with your mouth. Also, avoid touching the cold sore and then touching either your genital area or eyes. If at all possible, just avoid touching your mouth during the outbreak, waiting until after the scab has dropped off completely and the area has healed over. This could take weeks, as you are well aware, which makes kissing and other intimacies off-limits during that time so you don’t spread the virus to your loved ones. Wash your hands often to avoid accidental spreading of the virus.
If you have a cold sore, it is not the end of the world. 90% of the world’s population gets at least one cold sore during their lifetime, so you don’t need to hide in the closet. Figure out your triggers, discover a solution that works, keep the virus contained, and stay healthy!