How to prevent cold sores

How to prevent cold sores

  • Stay well – The common cold and feverish illnesses such as the flu can trigger cold sore attacks in some people.1 It is important to pay close attention to your general health and avoid getting run down by ensuring you consume a well‐balanced diet, get regular exercise and enough quality sleep.
  • Keep calm – It is not uncommon for a cold sore to pop up when it is least welcome, such as before a special occasion or when changing jobs. The reason may be stress, which often accompanies these types of events, and is one of the key factors that can prompt an outbreak.1 If you recognise stress as a trigger for your cold sores consider incorporating relaxation techniques into your daily routine such as yoga, meditation or deep breathing.
  • Use sunscreen – Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun can cause cold sores in some people.1 An effective sunscreen, a good lip balm with added UV protection and a wide‐brimmed hat may therefore be useful in reducing attacks.
  • Avoid windy conditions – Windy conditions and changes in weather can stimulate the cold sore virus into action. Protect your lips from the elements by pulling up a scarf and wearing lip balm and facial moisturiser.1
  • Know your hormones – Some women notice that cold sores flare up around the time of their monthly period.1 If this is the case for you, prepare yourself by carrying a cold sore ointment and applying it at the first sign of an impending cold sore, which is usually a tingling sensation. This may help to prevent an outbreak.
  • Protect your mouth – Physical injury or general damage to the area you normally develop cold sores can trigger an attack.2 Dental procedures can also have the same effect.2 Take care around your nose and lips when shaving and when consuming hot drinks.
  • Reduce alcohol intake – Consuming too much alcohol can provoke cold sores.3 It is therefore important to moderate intake.
  • Consider taking l‐lysine – L‐lysine is an amino acid, one of the building blocks of protein, which may help to reduce the frequency and severity of cold sore eruptions. This is because it blocks the activity of arginine, another amino acid that promotes the replication of the herpes simplex virus.4 You will need to take about 1000mg of l‐lysine daily to have an effect.
  • Be prepared – As cold sores often seem to happen for no apparent reason, it may be beneficial to keep a specialised cold sore product nearby so that any unexpected outbreaks can be managed as soon as possible.
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