8 December 2017 -
1108 times read.
Are cold sores actually preventable?
Unfortunately, cold sores are hard to prevent. This is mainly because a cold sore is caused by a very contagious virus: the herpes simplex virus. As a result, about 8 in 10 people in the UK carry this virus, which is usually contracted during childhood. Approximately 20 percent will get cold sores from time to time, while the virus lies dormant in the remainder. However, this does not alter the fact that they can also infect people with the herpes virus.
Reducing the risk of contamination
As so many people are infected with the herpes virus and can pass it on through physical contact as well as through objects such as cutlery or a drinking glass, it is almost impossible to prevent contamination. Of course, this does not mean that you should not try to reduce the risk, for example, by avoiding physical contact with someone who has cold sores. The fluid in cold sore blisters and the fresh scabs at the following stage are particularly contagious.
How to prevent the outbreak of a cold sore
Once you have had a cold sore, you will probably suffer from them with some regularity. The herpes virus can never be completely eradicated from the body so occasional outbreaks can be expected. This is particularly likely to happen when your immunity is reduced, for example, when you are tired, feverish, stressed, or are eating an unhealthy diet and taking little exercise. Taking steps to be lead a healthy a lifestyle as possible is the best way of preventing these type of triggers.
An antivirus cream
In addition, you can also use an antivirus cream to prevent cold sores. As you may know, you can feel an outbreak coming because your skin starts tingling and itching. If you promptly treat the emerging spots with an antiviral cream, the cold sore might not develop.
Is a cold sore dangerous?
A cold sore is mainly a difficult and painful condition. However, it is rarely dangerous. In principle, the skin heals automatically between 7 and 10 days.
Potentially dangerous for newborns
A cold sore can have a serious course in newborn babies. This is because the immune system has not yet fully grown. Babies up to the age of 3 months can get blisters on the skin or mucous membranes (this does not always happen!) Fever, being anxious, drinking badly, vomiting or being drowsy. In the worst case, the herpes virus can spread to the organs and brain. For example, meningitis can occur.
Although this chance is small, we strongly recommend avoiding physical contact with a baby if you have cold sores. If you regularly have a cold sore, it is better not to cuddle or kiss young babies when you are in a cold sore free period. It is possible that you are already contagious for some time prior to a cold sore.
Cold Sore Treatment
A cold sore? Read our 5 tips for treatment!
A cold sore is anything but nice. At first it is a painful affair and moreover, it is not exactly charming. Fortunately, there are various forms of treatment to suppress a cold sore as quickly as possible. Sometimes an outbreak can even be prevented.
Tip 1: Ensure optimal resistance
A cold sore is caused by the herpes simplex virus. Most people are infected with this at a young age. The virus is very contagious. Once the virus is in the body, it can be in remission for a while and then break out again in the form of a cold sore. This happens with a reduced resistance. You can thus prevent the outbreak by ensuring optimal resistance. Factors that are disastrous for your resistance are poor diet, little physical exercise, fatigue and stress.
Now you know what you have to do. A cold sore preferably requires a preventive treatment!
Tip 2: The regular treatment of a cold sore
Once you feel that there is a cold sore coming, you start with the regular form of treatment. This consists of applying an antiviral cream to the skin that feels burning or itchy. As you probably know, these are the forerunners of a cold sore. Moreover, the blisters usually return to the same spot. By starting this treatment at the earliest possible stage of an outbreak, it is sometimes possible to prevent cold sores.
You can also use a cream with zinc ointment. This can prevent vesicles from forming because zinc removes the moisture from them.
Tip 3: Buy a new toothbrush
Always buy a new toothbrush after you have had a cold sore. In your old toothbrush, traces of herpes simplex virus can remain behind. This can trigger a new outbreak.
Tip 4: The treatment of a cold sore with L-Lysine and vitamin C
Lysine is an amino acid that is known to prevent the outbreak of a cold sore. You get Lysine from foods such as dairy products, eggs, fish and red meat. Avoid products that can provoke an outbreak. These include shellfish, seeds, peanuts, nuts and spinach.
Vitamin C also fits in this form of preventive treatment. It has a positive effect on the resistance.
Tip 5: Eat a Sweet!
You can also use liquorice to treat a cold sore. Liquorice has an antiviral effect. In other words: it helps to make short hairs faster with a cold sore. If you do not like to bite on a stick, you can also drink tea based on liquorice during an outbreak!
Three anti-cold sore tips
Please observe the following tips to reduce the risk of contamination:
Tip 1: Take care not to share any utensils that might contain the virus. These might include a lip balm, toys, a razor or a towel.
Tip 2: Do you already have cold sores? If so, try not touch it or, if you do, wash your hands immediately afterwards. This will help you to avoid infecting others and spreading the blisters to other parts of your body. For example, you can also get them around your eyes or on your genitals (herpes genitalis).
Tip 3: Pregnant women who have herpes genitalis should inform their doctor or midwife because of the possibility transferring the virus to their baby during delivery. A cold sore for a newborn can be very dangerous, so the general practitioner or nurse will do all they can to prevent this happening.
Sources: NHS, HealthLine
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Last updated on December 8, 2017.