Declare war on cold sores!

Anyone who can sing a song about ugly blisters wants only one thing: to prevent herpes from getting back. But is it even possible?

The skin is taut, somehow warmer and strangely tingling: If you’ve ever been hit by cold sores, all the alarm bells are ringing. Is a new blister forming? Help is needed now.

Before we tell you what you can do to prevent cold sores, it will help you look at how cold sores occur.

Cold sores: what is it?

It is important to understand that herpes is not a disease in itself, but a symptom. The formation of blisters is usually caused by a virus called herpes simplex virus type 1. By the way, blisters can appear not only on the lips during infection, but also at the entrance to the nose and around or even in the mouth.

Cold sores prevention: Can you become immune to it?

Anyone who comes in contact with the virus for the first time and becomes infected does not necessarily notice it. In the body, however, it gets through the nerve fibers into the cells in our spinal cord. The virus can stay there for many years without reactivating.

However, if your immune system is weakened (and no one can prevent it), it can no longer keep the virus under control. It travels back along nerve fibers and causes painful blisters. You can’t prevent herpes with a total immunization – once it’s in your body, you won’t get it out.

However, there are ways to reduce the outbreaks a bit. The most important thing is: to strengthen the immune system, to avoid nicotine, alcohol, but also too much sugar. For example, with these healthy snacks in between:

Prevent cold sores: strengthen the immune system

An intact immune system that can defend itself against the virus is a basic precondition for cold sores to (no longer) appear. This is clear when you look at situations in which the virus is rapidly gaining ground.

Possible triggers for cold sores

  • Fever
  • infection
  • Hormonal changes, for example after childbirth, during pregnancy or during menstruation
  • some medicines that suppress the immune system
  • cancer and chemotherapy
  • Sun (strong sunlight affects the immune cells in the skin)
  • Mental exertion, such as stress, sadness, fatigue
  • Procedures on the skin of the face, such as laser or peeling
  • Oral procedures at the dentist or oral surgeon

All of these situations have one thing in common: they attack, suppress or even destroy the immune system. Thus, the herpes virus can quickly regain dominance, the blisters will not wait long. A balanced diet, adequate sleep and exercise are the most effective ways to keep the immune system intact.

Prevent cold sores with cream or gel

No matter: The creams or gels you get at the pharmacy only help if you apply them at the first hint – before the blisters form. They are designed to slow down virus replication. If applied on time, they can ideally stop a herpes outbreak. As an alternative to cream and gel, there are also special antiviral patches. You can also make them less visible with a little lipstick.

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Treat cold sores with zinc sulphate

If there are already blisters, you can apply creams or gels with zinc sulfate. They dry faster and the affected areas of skin heal faster. You should refrain from using toothpaste to fight blisters – ingredients can also irritate the skin. There is also no scientific evidence that toothpaste accelerates tooth healing.

Medications for herpes outbreaks?

There are cases where an outbreak of herpes is so severe that creams or gels are no longer enough to stop the virus. Antivirals must then be given in the form of tablets, juice or infusion as prescribed by your doctor.

Some risk groups are particularly at risk and should definitely consult a doctor:

  • Patients with a weakened immune system
  • Infants (Beware, herpes can be life threatening for babies!)
  • Pregnant women, especially just before giving birth
  • Old and helpless people, unless the focus disappears

The doctor should also:

  • any person with blisters on his eyes or genitals
  • every person with blisters in his mouth

Prevent cold sores: These 10 things can protect against (worse) outbreaks

Do you want to avoid being infected with the herpes virus or are you tired of those annoying blisters? Do you just have a blister or someone else around you and want to be on the safe side? Then you should definitely pay attention to the following ten points:

  1. If you have had cold sores, avoid exposing your skin to the sun. If all else fails, use sunscreen.
  2. Kissing and oral sex are taboo for cold sores (the genitals can also infect the genitals!).
  3. Do not share plates, glasses, cutlery or napkins.
  4. Do not share towels or lipsticks.
  5. Use a cotton swab to apply antiviral creams or gels.
  6. Always wash your hands thoroughly.
  7. Avoid biting your nails during the acute phase. Otherwise, you can easily get viruses in contact with your eyes with your fingers.
  8. Babies and young children must not be kissed, pacifiers must not be touched.
  9. Do not touch the blisters and, above all, do not open them.
  10. Use masks only once and never share them with others.

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Image credit: Getty Images / CherriesJD

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