Cold sores are the last thing we want making an appearance, especially when you want to be looking your best, but they have a habit of turning up at the worst possible moment.
What is a Cold Sore?
A cold sore is a small blister on the lips and around the mouth. An outbreak often starts with a tingling sensation and people who get them often feel a cold sore ‘coming on.’ A cold sore can be painful and irritating, but they usually go away after a week to ten days.
What do Cold Sores Look Like?
Cold sores start as small red patches that quickly develop into blisters, which then pop and scab before healing. If you are worried about the appearance of cold sores, covering them with a cold sore patch [PW1] may help.
What Causes Cold Sores?
Cold sores are caused by the ‘herpes simplex virus,’ commonly known as the ‘cold sore virus’. It’s possible to catch the cold sore virus at any stage in your life, however once contracted, it may lay dormant without any outbreaks of visible blisters or any symptoms for most the year. People who carry it can get an outbreak a few times a year when the virus is active.
Triggers can include:
- feeling stressed or under the weather
- exposure to too much sun
- some women may even get them on their period.
Unlike mouth ulcers, cold sores are highly contagious, but only if you touch or kiss the affected area. It’s important that you remember to wash your hands and any items that might come into contact with the cold sores, such as makeup brushes or towels, as this could cause the cold sore to spread.
How to Treat Cold Sores
Patience is key as cold sores can hang around for up to ten days, but there are anti-viral creams and lip balms available to help stop the tingling and soreness.
Zapping them with cold sore treatment at the first sign can really help. Make sure you’re washing your hands and not touching the cold sores in between as this can slow down the healing process and lead to spreading.
How Can I Prevent Cold Sores?
You can’t get rid of cold sores completely because the virus that carries them lies low – or dormant – in your body. The good news is that, if you do suffer from repeated bouts of cold sores, you can manage them and figure out what your trigger is.
So, if you know lots of sun brings them on, dial up the sun cream and wear a hat. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and staying hydrated, and eat lots of lovely fresh fruit and veggies to help keep that immune system top notch.