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.

The bad news is that there is no cure for the HSV-1 virus. However, the good news is that it will generally remain inactive until it is stimulated or triggered into action by certain conditions. This could happen very rarely or sometimes not at all.

However, if you suffer from cold sores, the better news is that limiting or mitigating the factors that trigger or cause cold sore outbreaks is possible. You need to figure out what causes your outbreaks, and while there are some common causes, each person is different, so there might be detective work to do.

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.

Reducing stress and ensuring you get a good night’s sleep is crucial for reducing the risk of cold sores and has a huge range of broader potential health implications. So, you mustn’t try to do too much or push your body beyond its capabilities. We all go through challenging times, whether that’s a busy period at work, dealing with children or a vast array of other obstacles life can throw at us. Taking the time to de-stress and sleep well could significantly reduce the amount and severity of cold sores.

Taking steps to address your cold sore triggers can significantly impact and reduce your chances of an outbreak. But, unfortunately, sometimes even that isn’t enough.

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.

Don’t worry; there are still things you can do. A cold compress can help reduce the worst effects of a cold sore and scabbing. Be sure not to apply ice directly to the affected area, and always wrap it in a cloth or towel. Pain medication such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can help reduce the pain, and over-the-counter cold sore treatments such as Compeed cold sore discreet healing patches containing hydrocolloid active gel can also help.

These patches help to treat the worst effects of a cold sore, and they can also help prevent the spread of infection to others during the contagious period. This is something to think about because while a large portion of the UK adult population carry the virius, that still leaves many that don’t. And if you’ve suffered from cold sores, you wouldn’t wish it on anyone else.

As you can see, the HSV-1 virus that causes cold sores might be a fact of life, but that doesn’t mean cold sores have to be. You can take plenty of preventative measures, such as avoiding extreme conditions, being aware of triggers, and looking after yourself – all of which can reduce the chances of an outbreak. However, if it does happen, you’re not just sentenced to a week or two of pain and discomfort; genuine and practical treatments are available to reduce a cold sore’s impact.

If you are looking for an effective way to treat your cold sore, then look no further than our Cold Sore Discreet Healing Patch that can help conceal and speed up the healing process of your cold sore.