Cold Sores 3 min read

Wearing makeup when you have a cold sore – handy tips to remember

Wearing makeup when you have a cold sore – handy tips to remember Wearing makeup when you have a cold sore – handy tips to remember Wearing makeup when you have a cold sore – handy tips to remember

Did you know that two-thirds of people under the age of 50 years are infected with the herpes simplex virus type 1 (the virus that causes cold sores)? Cold sores are very common, but that doesn’t mean it’s fun to have one. Not only can cold sores feel physically uncomfortable, but some people may also feel burdened by social embarrassment during an outbreak.

What are cold sores?

Cold sores are small, painful blisters called by the herpes simplex virus. Cold sores can appear on any part of the body, but they are most common on the face or genitals.

How easy is it to spread cold sores to other parts of your face?

“HSV-1 is a highly contagious infection known mainly for causing cold sores around the mouth,” says Ridah.

“We’re all guilty of touching our face and rubbing our eyes throughout the day. Unfortunately, due to the contagious nature of this virus, cold sores can spread to other areas of the body including the nose, eyes, throat, cheeks and chin.

“It’s easy for the virus to spread up from the mouth and into the nasal area due to the close proximity and, unfortunately, they can also spread up to the eye contour area, across the cheeks and down to the chin if you are not taking precautions. Once cold sores appear on the cheeks or chin, they’re likely to recur in the same spot during future outbreaks.”

It may sound obvious but during an outbreak don’t touch your face as you want to minimise the chances of spreading the infection to other parts of your body. You should also consider using disposable cotton pads or cloths when cleaning the infected area. The same goes for makeup wipes and other applications. In addition, you should regularly wash your hands with soapy water.

Is it safe to cover cold sores with makeup?

Ridah says: “When a cold sore has just recently appeared, they’re typically open, and so it is not advisable to cover it with any makeup as it may get into the wound and could trigger a more serious infection, making it worse. Instead, wait until the cold sore has scabbed over and then it will be safe to apply non-medicated cosmetics over the affected area.”

What precautions should you use if you choose to cover a cold sore with makeup?

“When putting makeup on a cold sore, always use a disposable applicator such as a cotton swab,” says Ridah.

“For example, don’t apply the lipstick directly from the tube; instead use a disposable wand or cotton bud to pick up a small amount of product and then apply.

“This rule applies to concealers and all other makeup. If you use your usual makeup tools or apply makeup from the tubes, you could contaminate the makeup. Also, at night ensure you remove your makeup thoroughly so that your cold sore has some time to breathe.”

When you have a cold sore, you should avoid sharing makeup, cutlery, cups, towels and other items to make sure you don’t spread the virus to other people. Also, avoid kissing and oral sex when you have an outbreak.