Cold sores are known as fever blisters on your lips or at the corner of your mouth. They’re mostly caused by the herpes simplex virus type (HSV-1). Sometimes, HSV-2 also leads to the infection. Most people with cold sores experience at least one outbreak in their lives. As when the virus enters your body, it stays dormant in the nerve and can be reactivated because of weakened immune system. A cold sore outbreak may be annoying and embarrassing, so nobody wants to have it again. To prevent the infection from coming back, the following information will help you.
How long does a cold sore last?
A cold sore normally takes from 7-14 days to heal completely. However, a primary cold sore seems to be the more painful and severe than other outbreaks. It usually goes through 5 stages, from the first healing to recovering:
Stage 1: A tingling sensation may appear from several hours to all day. As cold sore starts to develop, you may experience redness and tingling in affected area.
Stage 2: A cluster of blisters appears, they contain millions of virus, so you should avoid touching them to prevent the spread.
Stage 3: The stage is most painful because blisters break open leaving a shallow ulcer. The affected areas on your skin are also inflamed and get red.
Stage 4: Cold sores begin to dry out and a yellow crust occur. When the scab begins developing, your infection also starts to heal. But the cracks on affected area may bleeding and give you burning feeling.
Stage 5: In the last stage, the scab will drop off and a cold sore is gone away. However, your skin may be dry, so you should keep it moist.
The primary cold sore often needs longer time to heal. Luckily, the second outbreak is cured faster and less severe, it may take from 3-14 days to go away. Thus, you shouldn’t be worried. However, if you suffer from many outbreaks a year (about 6-7 times), you should see your doctor.
What triggers a cold sore outbreak?
There’s a fact that not all cold sores are triggered by the same things. Though the infection is caused by the virus, cold sore outbreaks are triggered by lots of different causes, including:
- Too much sun exposure
- Hormonal changes
- Weakened immune system
- Cold weather
These factors may cause outbreaks often. So, you should pay attention to your body and observe what triggers your infection; then, avoid them.
How to prevent cold sores from coming back
You may not know when a cold sore outbreak begins to occur, but getting some tips to prevent its recurrences is necessary.
Stress is one of the big triggers of a cold sore. It not only messes with your emotions but also weakens your immune system. If you want to inhibit a cold sore outbreak, you should limit stressful situation as much as possible. Try to identify what causes your stress and eliminate them. You’re stressful because of your work, for example, the best ways to reduce it are to cut down your tasks on and rest. If stress is caused by family conflicts, share it with your trusted person to reduce pressure. Or, in case medications of another illness cause your stress, you can talk with your doctor. Though stress is a little bit hard to avoid, you’ll find out ways to deal with it. As long as you understand what triggers your stress, avoiding it is easier.
Pay close attention to your diet
Lack of nutrients may lead to weakened immune system that triggers a cold sore outbreak. In addition, there’re some certain foods are seen to cause the recurrence. So, paying attention to your diet is important to prevent an outbreak. For herpes, you should avoid gelatin, sugar foods or caffeine. Rice and peas contain more arginine that is the main culprit of an outbreak, so you shouldn’t eat them too much. Besides, drink beer, coffee or fizzy drinks can trigger your cold sores. Instead, foods are rich in lysine and vitamins are encouraged. As they helps alleviate cold sores, you should add some lysine foods such as lean lamp, turkey, salmon, lobster to your diet.
Related: Foods to Prevent Herpes Outbreaks
Take lysine and vitamin supplements
As you know, vitamin B contributes to stress relief and lysine is an amino acid that stops the activity of cold sores. Thus, they play an important role in dealing with herpes and preventing the infection from coming back. Besides foods, you can take them through supplements. Lysine, vitamin B complex, vitamin C or zinc supplements are helpful. But, to make sure they’re safe to take in a long time, you should ask your doctor before taking.
Apply antiviral creams
Some antiviral creams are effective to treat herpes, including cold sores and genital herpes. When you have a primary cold sore, antiviral creams will relieve current infection and prevent further outbreaks. ProsurX is one of the best choices for cold sores. Approved by FDA, the cream is the only topical medicine that treats both oral and genital herpes. It kills the virus not only on the surface but also in the lower skin layers. Thus, ProsurX helps stop herpes outbreak before they start. Besides, you can apply lip balm, topical ointment like Zovirax to prevent cold sores.
Take antiviral drugs
In case you get cold sores outbreak frequently, your doctor may prescribe antiviral medicines to treat. Acyclovir, Valtrex, Famvir and Penciclovir are commonly prescribed to treat herpes. These drugs relieve current cold sores and inhibit herpes outbreaks. Consider taking an antiviral medicine everyday if you have outbreak often. However, you only need take it from 7-10 days with the first diagnose of herpes.
Cold sores are common infections that 9 out of 10 people get the virus. Even though you relieve a current cold sores, this doesn’t mean it never comes back. When you catch the virus, it can be reactivated many times. Thus, you should take care of your health and prevent cold sores outbreaks with above tips.
Related: How Long Does Genital Herpes Last?