Cold sores (also called lip sores or fever blisters) are tiny, contagious blisters that form on the mouth, caused by the Herpes Simplex virus. The virus normally remains latent in the body with no symptoms and only becomes contagious when cold sores are present. The cold sores are painful and unsightly, and many people who get them find them embarrassing. Continue reading for some tips on how to treat and prevent cold sores:
1. Avoid stress
There are many theories surrounding different triggers for cold sores, but two of the main agreed upon triggers are stress and illness. Stress can lead to potential cold sore outbreaks by reducing the effectiveness of the immune system. If the stress alone does not lead to a cold sore outbreak, it still compromises the effectiveness of the immune system, which can lead to illness. Since illness is another factor that can lead to a cold sore outbreak, stress is especially important to avoid.
2. Use sunscreen
Another cold sore outbreak trigger is sun exposure, so using a strong sunscreen will help reduce the frequency of cold sore outbreaks. Some sources say to use at least SPF 15 sunscreen, while others recommend a minimum SPF of 25 or 30. Generally, using the highest SPF sunscreen that you are comfortable with will offer more protection than not using it at all.
3. Apply lip balm
Lip balm can be used for lip sore treatment or prevention. Since avoiding sun exposure can reduce the frequency of cold sore outbreaks, using one of the many lip balms that include spf protection will help prevent outbreaks. There are also several brands of lip balm that treat cold sore outbreaks when they present themselves, some of which both reduce pain and shorten the time-span of the outbreak.
4. Don’t share toothbrushes or personal items
It is thought that about 70% of the population has herpes simplex. That leaves 30% of the population that does not have it, and if you have never had a cold sore outbreak, you may be one of them. To try and avoid ever getting herpes simplex, don’t share toothbrushes or other personal items that touch the mouth, such as lip balm or water bottles, with someone who has a cold sore. Also,do not kiss someone who has a cold sore on or near the mouth. If possible, it is also prudent to avoid touching any contaminated surface until it has been disinfected, or disinfect your hands if you have touched a surface that has been in contact with cold sores.
5. OTC viral medications
There are many other methods to prevent or treat cold sore outbreaks. Some of the strongest and quickest treatment methods are OTC viral medications, like Abreva. If your children get cold sores, you cannot always use the same cold sore medication for kids that you can for adults. Be sure to seek professional medical guidance if it is unclear whether or not an OTC viral medication is safe for children.