Cold sores are also called fever blisters. They are fluid-filled blisters that appear on the lips usually when you have a cold. You may not have warning symptoms, but the signs do happen in most people. You may feel a numbness, tingling or a tenderness a few hours before the blisters appear. It generally takes a couple of weeks for it to completely heal. The blisters will crust over and then dry up and will soon be gone.
Cold sores are caused by one of two closely related and contagious viruses, herpes simplex Type 1 and Type 2. The herpes virus is very common and most people become exposed to it very early in their life. The virus is believed to lie dormant until you become stressed or your body is in a state of weakened condition. The virus takes hold and a cold sore develops.
Some people may never experience one as others may suffer recurrences several times a year usually due to a weakened immune system.
Several factors can cause an outbreak. Fevers and colds cause plenty of sores but stress, some forms of dental work and weather conditions can all be factors that cause an outbreak. Some women may find an occasional outbreak during their menstrual cycle or pregnancy.
While you can’t cure cold sores, you can ease their discomfort and avoid spreading the virus to others.
Once you develop a cold sore don’t irritate it with salty, spicy or acidic foods. Stick with very bland foods.
Over-the-counter pain relievers can reduce the pain and the inflammation. Make sure the pain reliever you choose has anti-inflammatory capabilities. If you are taking other medications or have a disease or illness check with your doctor first.
You can purchase an ointment containing benzocaine. Ointments can be found in most mass-merchandisers and pharmacies.
Avoid spreading the virus. Herpes virus is highly contagious even before the blisters is noticeable. Don’t share cups, utensils, towels and makeup brushes. Avoid skin-to-skin contact, even kissing, until all blisters are completely gone.
You can reduce your chances of getting a cold sore.
Protect your lips with a lip balm that contains sunscreen at all times. At night apply a liberal amount of petroleum jelly.
Manage your stress levels. To prevent stress-related outbreaks of cold sores, set up a stress-reducing regimen. Take really good care of yourself when you know your body is under stress.
A healthy lifestyle can help keep your immune system working efficiently. Eat a healthy diet that contains fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Get at least six hours of sleep every night. Exercise regularly to help boost your immune system. Give up drinking alcohol and stop smoking.
Avoid close contact with people who have colds. Wash your hands frequently. Wipe areas in which may be contaminated with disinfectant wipes and spray other areas liberally with Lysol.
When a cold sore does become apparent don’t pick at it. This spreads and could contaminate the virus. Don’t kiss and be sure to avoid skin-to-skin contact to keep the virus from spreading to someone else.
Women’s Health Defense Library Reference