Cold sore: How to get rid of painful blisters – don’t eat too much chocolate

Cold sore: How to get rid of painful blisters - don’t eat too much chocolate

Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) antibodies which most of us carry due to previous infection – it’s very difficult to avoid completely. It doesn’t, however, cause any problems while it lies dormant at the nerve root. 

It can easily be reactivated in those prone to cold sores, travelling back up to the skin and popping up as what looks like a painful blister. 

They usually begin with a tingling, itching or burning feeling and when they erupt they can last around 10 days. 

But is there anything you can do to reduce the recurrence of cold sores? Alison Cullen, A.Vogel health educator and nutrition therapist explained what can trigger them. 

She said: “Trigger factors include physical or emotional stress, over-exposure to ultraviolet light (either sunshine or sun beds can do it) to UV light, fever, menstruation, fatigue, immune-suppressing drugs, alcohol and nicotine. 

“It’s difficult to avoid all these but supporting the immune system, especially when under stress or suffering another infection such as the common cold, is sensible.”

Diet can play a part in keeping cold sores at bay, according to Alison. Too much chocolate could spell trouble. 

She said: “Check your diet for too much chocolate or too many nuts – both of these can feed the HSV-1 virus if taken in large quantities.”

Alison also recommends supplements to help keep cold sores at bay. 

“Take plenty of vitamin C to reduce viral replication, and use Echinacea, an antiviral herb, to ramp up your immune defences,” she advised. 

Alison added: “A remedy I love using for additional effect is St John’s Wort oil, dabbed on the skin.

“It’s naturally antiviral and is particularly effective for nerve pain – also great for shingles and chickenpox. 

“Used topically, it won’t interfere with any medication you may be taking, which is not the case for St John’s Wort products taken internally.”

Other of Alison’s recommendations include wearing sun blocking lip salves in sunny conditions. 

As kissing is the main mode of infection, this should be avoided from the first sign of a cold sore appearing until it’s full healed. 

And lip balms that include liquorice appear to help block viral replication and reduce recurrences. 

Alison said: “Try taking an L-lysine supplement daily and use Propolis cream as a lip salve during vulnerable times.

“Propolis is made by bees to counter infection in the hive, and can be used topically to protect against and help heal cold sores.” 

Cold sores usually clear up on their own but until they go away they are contagious.

Creams can be recommended by your pharmacist to ease pain and irritation, but the NHS recommends washing your hands with soap and water before and after application

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