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Cold Sores Prevalent Among Astronauts

NASAA new piece of NASA-funded research has found that Earth is not the only place where you might be required to apply a dose of your cold sore treatment.

Although it has long been known that astronauts face a peculiar mix of health challenges when they are in space, there has been little to document this besides observed losses in bone density and muscle strength in a microgravity environment.

However, the latest piece of exhaustive research reveals that cold sore activation is a particular area of concern, with 60 per cent of all astronauts who visit the International Space Station developing cold sores during their stay, compared to around 30% of cold sore-infected people back home on the ground.

Although scientists understand that cold sores can be triggered into activation by various stressful events, it is hoped that the NASA study may also lead to some benefit for cold sore sufferers here on planet Earth.

More pertinently, it is hoped that the research will inform health management strategies for future space exploration; weakened immune system function has been a consistent challenge to human space travel and the reactivation of the herpes virus during space travel is perhaps the most useful illustration of this phenomenon yet. Interestingly, the researchers found that the longer an astronaut was in space, the more cold sore virus DNA they found in their urine and saliva.

Space travel to inspire the cold sore treatments of the future?

Innovations made for space exploration have long inspired similar innovations here on Earth – for example, all of GPS, pacemakers, voice-control technologies, artificial limbs and infrared thermometers began as space technologies. It can be hoped that space innovations might also lead to some similar advances in cold sore medicine technologies.

However, NASA could do worse than test the effectiveness of a propolis-based cold sore treatment in space; clinical trials here on Earth have certainly recommended its efficacy.