Living with cold sores is something that many people have to accept. There are ways to reduce the frequency of outbreaks and devices that do stop them entirely for some people. Unfortunately, not everyone is this lucky. In these instances the only answer is to find a way to make them less of an annoyance and to alleviate the pain. Here are a few tips to make that possible.
Mind Your Hands
Wash hands frequently to prevent the spread of an outbreak to other areas of the face or body. Clean hands will also stop the spread of the virus to others. Keep hands away from the face because it is impossible to keep them sterile 24-hours a day. Many people subconsciously pick at a cold sore without realizing it and this leads to inflammation and could potentially cause an infection. Plus, the oils and dirt on the hands may cause pimples to develop.
Buy in Bulk
Replace anything that touches the face during an outbreak. This includes toothbrushes, makeup brushes and lip balm. The virus can remain on these items and cause new breakouts after the original sore heals.
Take Some Vitamins
Cold sore sufferers may avoid Vitamin C because taking it can lead to an outbreak. This is potentially true, but it is only a part of the story. Vitamin C helps the body to build up its immune system by increasing T cell production. T cells activate HSV-1 cells by attacking them, but may not initially have the strength to kill the virus. This often leads to more outbreaks immediately after adding Vitamin C to a diet. Stopping will return the system to normal, but continuing to take the vitamin will allow the T cells to fully mature and become strong enough to kill the virus before the cold sore erupts. It is not a cure, but it may eventually help to prevent many outbreaks.
Avoid Covering Sores
The problem with hiding a cold sore is that common covering methods may irritate the sore. Shielding sores behind the hands while talking can lead to spreading the virus and makeup can irritate or infect the sore. Makeup will not stay on open sores and it will clump or settle into scabby spots and make the sore even more noticeable. An exception would be the medicated patches that are safe to use, but some people find these more irritating than helpful.
Relax a Little
Take five minutes, three or four times a day, to apply a cool compress to the sore. The compress will reduce inflammation and the short break helps people to decompress. This gives them the ability to help themselves in two ways at the same time. Try adding whole milk or a few drops of vanilla to the cloth for a more effective compress.
Buy a Sunhat
The sun causes many outbreaks as well as making existing sores more irritated. Wear a hat, use sunblock and sit in the shade. Reducing sun exposure helps to prevent cold sores as well as wrinkles, dark spots and skin cancer.
Avoid Hot Beverages
Coffee, cocoa and tea are soothing to everything except a lip with a cold sore. The heat of the beverage can increase the swelling and redness and potentially cause more pain. During an outbreak people can still get their dose of caffeine by choosing the iced versions of their favorite drinks.
Small lifestyle changes make a big difference over time. Rarely is the effect instantaneous, but within a few months people will often notice the outbreaks are occurring less frequently and the sores are healing faster. Every improvement is a step in the right direction and none of these steps are painful or expensive. Try them all and see how it works for you.