Cold Sores 3 min read

How To Reduce The Chances Of Getting A Cold Sore

How To Reduce The Chances Of Getting A Cold Sore How To Reduce The Chances Of Getting A Cold Sore How To Reduce The Chances Of Getting A Cold Sore

Cold sores can be unpleasant, painful and a real nuisance, especially if you are a regular sufferer. That ominous tingle around the mouth is generally a sure-fire sign that you’re in for an uncomfortable few weeks. While there are some good treatments to help reduce the impact of a cold sore, when it comes to cold sores, the old saying that prevention is better than cure applies.

So, what can you do to reduce your chances of getting a cold sore? Are there any steps you can take to minimise the risk of an outbreak, and at what stage in the cold sore process do you need to act to avoid that painful eruption? These are all questions we will answer below, but before we do, it’s worth taking a minute to understand what a cold sore is and what causes it.

What causes cold sores?

Cold sores are a viral infection caused by the HSV-1 variation of the herpes simplex virus. Once you catch this virus – as you would any other viral infection, through close contact or touch – you will be a carrier of the virus for life. About 1 in 5 people in the UK have recurring cold sores and there is certainly no stigma or negative connotations attached.

Common triggers for cold sore outbreaks

The common causes of cold sores vary greatly, as we mentioned above. Some common triggers include hormonal changes during menstruation or pregnancy, sunburn or excessive exposure to UV, extremes of temperature (either too hot or too cold), dry or damaged lips, and more general physical issues such as stress or fatigue. Cold sores often erupt when you are ill or suffer from another type of infection, which is when your immune system is at its weakest.

How to prevent cold sores

As we mentioned above, prevention is always better than cure when it comes to cold sores, so you need to think about the common cold sore triggers and work out if they have ever applied to you. Some people are more susceptible to cold sores in the colder winter months, others when the sun is shining. So, think about when you are most likely to feel that familiar, nagging tingling. If it’s in the summer, try to avoid too much UV exposure and oily sun creams that can clog up pores. If it’s winter when you suffer most, then make sure you wrap up warm and keep your mouth and lips covered.

What to do when a cold sore appears

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what causes a cold sore on a case by case basis, as sometimes your body goes through hormonal changes, or atmospheric conditions get the best of you. Or perhaps you simply catch a common cold, and your immune system is busy doing other things. This is usually when you’ll find a cold sore will start to form.