How to prevent cold sores through lifestyle choices

Preventing and treating cold sores should be a way of life

It's an infuriating fact for cold sore sufferers that no matter what they seem to do, recurring outbreaks of symptoms are inevitable.

But even though the current absence of an all-out cure may be enough for frequent sufferers to give up hope, the good news is that there are a number of things that you can do to reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks. Follow the steps below to make sure that you're doing all that you can to give yourself the best fighting chance against the irritatingly persistent HSV-1 virus.

Stick to the shade

Too much exposure to UV rays is a common trigger of cold sores. In other words, if you are prone to infection, you will want to minimise the time you spend in the sun. While a small amount of sun is a good source of vitamin D, too much of it can result in all sorts of problems for your skin, not just cold sores. If you get sunburnt, your body will work to repair the damaged skin, lowering your defences against the HSV-1 virus.

If you know that a long walk in the sunshine during your day is going to be unavoidable, it would be a good idea to apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, especially around the lips. Why not purchase a Herstat LipCare Stick to help reduce the damage from UV-A and UV-B radiation.

Avoid damage to the lips

Speaking of the LipCare Stick, it can also prevent your lips from becoming chapped and dry, another common trigger for cold sores. It's important that you are protected against all the elements as it's not just the sun that can bring on symptoms – the wind and bitter cold weather can as well. Lips that are cracked from such conditions are particularly prone to developing cold sores, and irritating the skin, through biting and picking, will increase the chances of an outbreak even more. You must also avoid licking your lips when they are dry because, contrary to what may feel instinctive, doing so will just strip them of their natural moisture.

Don't panic

Stress is impossible to avoid. You can't predict what life may throw at you next and, unfortunately, since stress tends to lower your immune system, the HSV-1 virus decides to seize difficult times as the perfect opportunity to emerge.

But there's also the stress that's brought on by the cold sores themselves. Depending on how noticeable the symptoms are, your outbreak is likely to make you feel far worse. And so, a viscous cycle is created, maintained by your own emotional distress. It is important, therefore, that if you're the type that allows your symptoms to get the better of you, you do your best to simply try and relax. This is a lot easier said than done, we know, but there are a few things you can do to help:

  • Get a good night's sleep – When you're tired, you're more easily agitated. Try and get at least seven to eight hours sleep each night so that you are always well-rested.
  • Remember to breathe – Taking long, deep breaths is the most natural and simple way of alleviating stress. You can work on some deep breathing exercises that are used to relieve anxiety (these can be done whether you're at home, work, or out and about), or if you have more time and the appropriate space, you could try practising meditation or yoga.
  • Get moving – Regular exercise has been proven to help boost both people's physical and mental well-being. Staying active by taking up a sport or simply going for a long walk can work wonders on your stress levels.

Don't feed the virus

There are certain foods that the HSV-1 virus loves and you need to avoid if you want to help your body keep it at bay. Foods that are high in arginine and low in lysine will encourage cold sores to show up as well as stick around for longer. Arginine and Lysine are both amino acids but have very different effects on the virus; arginine strengthens and replicates, whereas lysine prevents and treats. Foods high in arginine include chocolate, nuts (namely peanuts, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts), sesame and sunflower seeds, dark leafy green vegetables (such as spinach), and grains such as wheat and oats. Acidic and salty foods can also aggravate existing sores.

While this may seem like a discouragingly long list to avoid, there are many foods that are high in lysine, too. Most meat and dairy products are full of the cold sore-fighting amino acid, with milk, cheese, yoghurt, fish, chicken, and the majority of fruits and vegetables being among the most reliable sources.

In general, eating a healthy, balanced diet that's based on vegetables, fruits, and whole foods while avoiding processed foods will help make sure your body's healing system is working as efficiently as it can. This will give you better odds of avoiding cold sores as well as making them heal faster when you do get them.

Do your best to stay at your best

When trying to change your lifestyle to help conquer your cold sores, it all comes down to simply being more healthy. Staying mindful of what you put into your body and how you treat it will help keep your immune system strong, improving your overall health and, therefore, putting you in the best possible shape to avoid a cold sore outbreak. However, if you find that they do still occur, don't worry…

Top it off with a tube of Herstat

Following the above steps will mean that you're well on your way to enhancing your body's natural protection against cold sores. But when one does decide to crop up, you will want to make sure you have an effective ointment that you know you can trust. Herstat cream has been proven to treat cold sores fast (performing better than both the active ingredients used in other well-known brands and a placebo during clinical trials). Herstat has been shown to reduce the healing time of a cold sore by an average of three and a half days when applied every two hours or at least five times a day. The best part is that, unlike other creams, Herstat does not need to be applied at the very first signs of symptoms to be effective. Its healing properties, fuelled by the naturally antiviral substance propolis, will still work when applied in the later stages.