Cold sores are blisters that form around the mouth and inside the nose often appearing towards the end of a cold. This common and infectious virus can also attack other parts of the face, the genitals (see Genital herpes) and other skin areas.
Itching or tingling of the skin in the affected area (normally the lips) – this may precede the appearance of the cold sore
One or many clusters of small blisters forming over inflamed skin and filled with a yellowish or white fluid
Red, painful sores on or near the mouth and lips, or on fingers
Swollen, sensitive gums of a deep red colour
A fever and/or flu-like symptoms
Cold sores are caused by the Herpes simplex virus, which is transmitted by contact such as kissing an infected person or sharing eating utensils.
The virus may lie dormant in the body for years, sometimes without causing any symptoms, only to be activated during periods of low immune status, stress, exposure to cold, and sunburn. Some women also find that menstruation can trigger cold sores.
The amino acid L-lysine helps to reduce the frequency and severity of cold sore outbreaks
Zinc, Echinacea and Vitamin C help to keep the immune system strong, and help to fight the Herpes virus
The Herpes virus is made stronger by the amino acid L-arginine and weaker by L-lysine. Avoid foods rich in L-arginine (such as nuts, chocolate, carob, coconut, soya beans and oats). At the same time, increase foods high in L-lysine, (such as kidney beans, split peas, fish, lamb, milk, cheese and sprouts), and consider taking an L-lysine supplement.
Stress can be a trigger for cold sore outbreak – if you are getting lots of cold sores your stress levels may be to blame – look for ways to cope better.
Hygiene is an important factor in cold sore prevention. Be careful not to kiss someone who has a cold sore, or use the same utensils, towels, or razors. Always wash your hands after touching a cold sore, and be sure not to touch your eyes or genitals after touching your cold sore.
If you know that sun exposure is a trigger for cold sore outbreak in you, be very careful to avoid the sun.
Consult your healthcare professional if:
Cold sores develop near the eyes or on eyes
You develop a high fever or chills
Your sores are very painful