Just mentioning cold sores makes some people recoil. Perhaps it’s the association with the herpes virus or the fact that once you’ve caught it you’ve got it for life. Yet, cold sores are in the top ten most common skin concerns in the UK and around seven out of ten of us carry the virus.
While you can’t get rid of the virus forever, there are measures you can take to prevent cold sores from materialising.
What is a cold sore?
Cold sores can look like little blisters or patches of raw, red skin. They are caused by the herpes simplex virus. There are two strains, type 1 and type 2, both of which can be caught on any part of your body. That said, if you catch type 1 on your lips it’s unlikely that it will appear anywhere else on your body. The main difference between the two types is that type 1 is more likely to reoccur.
How do you catch the cold sore virus?
Kissing or sharing drinks with someone who has a cold sore is the main way of catching the virus. However, the virus lies dormant in a lot of us and unless you have a breakout you won’t be contagious.
What are the other causes of cold sores?
It’s commonly assumed that cold sores occur when you’re run down or stressed as your immune system is low, which is true. But, sunlight can also cause cold sores. Hence why when you’re holiday you can often breakout.
How can you treat cold sores?
There is no quick fix for cold sores. Time is generally the best healer and it takes about a week for a cold sore to heal and disappear. In terms of treatment, Lysine is your best bet. It is an amino acid which has been shown to both treat and prevent cold sore flare ups as it slows the activity of arginine, an amino acid that promotes the growth of the herpes virus.
Fish, chicken, milk, cheese, eggs and potatoes are all good sources of lysine. You can also supplement it in the form of Lamberts L-Lysine, £10.45.
How can you prevent cold sores?
If you regularly suffer with cold sores it’s worth taking preventative measures. Taking a lysine supplement as advised above should help.
For a two-pronged approach, you can also apply lysine topically. Balmkind Lip Balm, £12, contains lysine, as well as nourishing antioxidants such as kernel oil. It’s also worth opting for a lip balm that contains sun protection, especially when you go on holiday.
Avoid using any lipstick while you have a cold sore to prevent contamination and future breakouts. And while it can be tempting to try and camouflage with concealer, we recommend treating the cold sore and letting it heal naturally to avoid further infection.