StatePoint — Did you know that the cold sore virus is very common? In fact, eight out of 10 people have it. And, if you’ve ever had one, you already know that an outbreak can be painful and unpleasant. Itching, burning, tingling, and blisters are some of the symptoms associated with cold sores, and many people are especially susceptible to them during cold and flu season.
Blisters or sores usually appear when your body’s defenses are down — when you are stressed, or your immune system is weak, making you especially vulnerable this time of year. There is no cure for cold sores, but you can take steps to prevent an outbreak and manage the symptoms. Here is what to know:
Among other harmful effects to skin, excess sun exposure can trigger cold sores, no matter what the temperature is outdoors. In the cooler months, take steps to limit sun exposure as you would during summer. This includes wearing a lip balm with SPF protection.
Work to keep your immune system strong all season. Eat a well-balanced diet, exercise and get sufficient rest every night.
A lot of stress can also be a trigger for a cold sore. Whether it’s a bubble bath, yoga session, or an evening on the couch watching TV, make sure your schedule includes some quality down time.
Most symptoms go away in seven to 12 days. Before a blister appears, you may feel tingling or burning on your upper or lower lip. This is called a “prodrome,” a signal that a cold sore is imminent. This is the best time to make sure you have a trusted cold sore treatment on hand.
You can help to ease symptoms at the site of the sore with a fast-acting formula such as Carmex Cold Sore Treatment. Ten percent benzocaine relieves pain and itch, while its patented Triplex formula works to smooth and fill in the sores to make it less noticeable. Keep dry, cracked lips moisturized with a medicated lip balm, such as those available from Carmex.
Remember, the cold sore virus is contagious, particularly during the open sore stage, so wash your hands regularly in order to prevent spreading the infection to others. Also avoid sharing glasses or utensils that may spread the virus. Sadly, kissing is also on the list of things to avoid.
In the winter, take extra precautions to prevent cold sore outbreaks. And if you do suffer from these painful symptoms, remember, there are many ways to ease discomfort.