Have you ever had painful, watery, and reddish blisters near your mouth or lips?
One that causes painful and reddish swelling, fever, and loss of appetite? If you have, you’ve most likely been infected with cold sores.
Medically known as Herpes Labialis, these pesky oral pustules are also collectively called fever blisters. They’re caused by the herpes simplex virus and are highly contagious—but can be prevented at the same time.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), global statistics indicate that some 3.7 billion people aged under 50 are infected, without them knowing it. That’s because of not all experience breakouts.
Check out some tips below to effectively avert this pervasive oral infection:
Get Proper Nutrition
Adequate nutrition is critical in warding off infections, whether bacterial or viral in nature. A healthy diet that’s packed with protein and whole grains, as well as raw vegetables and fruits, can help you become more resilient against an outbreak.
Kale, spinach, broccoli, and cabbage are a few vegetables packed with indole-3-carbinol (I3C), which is believed to help slow down the development of the herpes virus.
Inversely, try to refrain from consuming processed meat, refined sugars, alcohol, and caffeine, as these food products are said to help trigger cold sores. The same thing goes for arginine-rich foods, which, unfortunately, include chocolates and nuts.
Once you feel a tingling sensation around your lips and suspect you may be having one, you can start taking natural home remedies; learn more here.
Protect Yourself at All Times
Viral infections seem to erupt out of nowhere, and it seems there’s very little that you can do to prevent it. Fortunately, there are preventable triggers that can help you keep cold sores at bay.
For instance, avoid getting your oral area from getting injured. Sometimes, viral infections can develop alongside bacterial infections.
So, the more you keep your oral area clean, the lesser your chances of developing an outbreak. Apart from preventing injuries, you also need to practice more precautions when you’re wearing braces or are undergoing specific dental procedures.
Despite its reddish or pinkish appearance, your lips are still covered by skin and thus remain sensitive against the heat and ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. These two elements, along with strong winds, can trigger an infection.
To minimize your chances of developing cold sores, wear sunscreen before sun exposure. While slathering a sunblock lotion on your face, don’t forget to apply lip balm with at least sun protection factor (SPF) 15.
The higher the SPF, the better, as the numbers represent how long it can protect your skin. For instance, if it takes about three minutes for your skin to get impacted by the sun, a sunblock with SPF 15 can protect your skin for up to 45 minutes.
Manage Stress Better
Sometimes, cold sores may develop out of nowhere, such as when you have an important job interview or an impending life-changing event. When you’ve gotten the herpes simplex virus and are pining over some stressful event, you’re a good candidate for an outbreak.
If you often develop cold sores as a response to anxiety-inciting situations, consider keeping yourself calm by getting high-quality sleep and performing regular exercises.
Practicing some useful relaxation techniques also helps you feel relaxed. Yoga, deep breathing, and meditation can all help minimize stress and anxiety, so, you might want to consider these, too.
Boost Your Immune System
Apart from getting proper nutrition, you can also boost your immune system by having at least seven hours of sleep. Being well-rested allows you to recover properly as you get some much-needed shut-eye after a long day.
Also, improve your gut health by taking probiotic supplements, eating less sugar, exercising regularly, and managing stress better. Research published in Johns Hopkins Medicine in November 2015, entitled ‘The Gut: Where Bacteria and Immune System Meet,’ shows the link between the two.
Practice Good Hygiene
Cold sores may be passed on from one person through another by oral contact. Saliva and other body fluids that enter any facial orifice are the vectors for the infection, much like the coronavirus.
Hence, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands often. If you’re in an area without access to water and soap, apply hand sanitizer and alcohol on your hands and avoid touching surfaces in public places.
Here’s one surprising fact: the herpes virus can thrive on your toothbrush. To prevent an outbreak, change your toothbrush often. If you’ve developed cold sores, throw away your used brush and get a new one to prevent re-infection.
Refrain From Using Other People’s Things
Being a highly contagious infection, it’s so easy to contract cold sores from an infected person. So, make sure you don’t get to share other people’s toothbrushes, face towels, spoons, and fork, as well as glasses.
As mentioned, most people could be carriers of the virus already but don’t know it, as they don’t develop any symptoms.
Cold sores are highly contagious and seem to come out of nowhere. Knowing their triggers—elevated stress levels, improper hygiene, and nutrition, as well as lack of protection—can help prevent an outbreak.