Acting fast can prevent unsightly cold sores from spoiling your look.
You feel a tingling on your lip and you know immediately that it’s a dreaded coldsore. Cold sores are caused by infection with the herpes simplex virus (HSV) and once you’ve been infected, usually during childhood, your chances of recurrence are high. Cold sores are extremely common and many treatments rely on quick action before blisters appear.
Common cold sore triggers
People who have been infected with HSV are more susceptible to cold sores and may find they appear regularly under particular conditions including:
- Colds flu or other infections.
This is why they are called cold sores.
- Hormonal fluctuations. Some women find cold sores appear at the same time as their period.
- Weather. Sunlight and wind are known triggers for cold sores.
- Stress. Both physical and emotional stress can cause cold sores to flare up.
Preventing cold sores
If you’re prone to cold sores you might be able to stop them by wearing lip balm in the sun or wind, keeping your immune system in peak condition and avoiding getting run down or overtired.
Avoid passing it on
To minimise the chances of passing on the virus, avoid kissing and sharing towels, toothbrushes, drinks and cutlery. HSV is from the same family of viruses that cause genital herpes, so it is possible to pass it on during oral sex.
Fixing a cold sore
At the first sign of a cold sore, you can try one of the following treatments:
- An iodine based preparation to fight infection and relieve pain. Ointments to try include Zovirax, Vectavir, Blistex and Virasolve.
- Antiviral medication comes in tablet form and is available on prescription for between $70 and $90. No medicare rebate is available.
- Home remedies. Some swear that placing an ice cube on a cold sore early on will stop it in it’s tracks. Lemon balm or tea tree oil dabbed on a cold sore is also a popular home remedy.
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