When I was younger, cold sores (almost successfully) set out to ruin my social life. They had this adorable little habit of arriving on the eve of school photo days, camps, sleepovers and school socials. It caused me great stress—which, as you will know if you’re afflicted with the virus, is a major trigger itself. Lose, lose situation.
Over the years, I became very proficient at fighting cold sores. While my disdain for them never waned, I would almost wish them into existence, so I could go into battle with them and emerge victorious. I tried and tested every single trick and wives tale under the cold sore-inducing sun—some exacerbated the situation, some became loyal allies in my the endless fight to destroy them.
As I sailed through my late teens and early twenties, their visits lessened, which I think can mainly be credited to Lysine and Zinc consumption, and the upswing in my SPF+ game. I can count on two hands the amount of coldsores I’ve had in the past decade (thankfully, since they don’t really seem to have a place in an adult’s world). Largely the triggers remained the same—hormones running rampant, burning the candle at both ends, fatigue setting in—but the list also grew to include such things as: drinking too much alcohol.
After two years of living life blissfully devoid of a lip friend, I woke up to a small blister forming on my lower lip last week. Joy! Luckily, my +1 was modest in size and positioned in such a place so as to be mostly obscured from the harsh gaze of the general public. Still not ideal, considering the timing was pretty much the adult equivalent of getting one on the morning of school photo day. Let me set the scene: intimate afternoon gathering, me and my cold sore, my ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend. Cute-meet!
I got onto the CS swiftly enough that by the time I was saying my awkward hellos, you could barely see it (especially with the help of my good friend, lip gloss). Still, it reminded me that many people are still out there trying to fight the good fight against them. And so, I give you, my full-proof guide to murdering your next coldsore…
BUY FAMVIR IMMEDIATELY
This is a true ~life changer~. I’m not sure why no one told me about it sooner (???), but ‘better late than never’ applies all the same. You should always consult your doctor/pharmacist before taking new medications (obvs), but according to this handy site, they’re an “antiviral medicine used to treat recurrent outbreaks of cold sores in adults 18 years of age and over who have a normal immune system.”
The best results are yielded if you get onto it straight away. Honestly, I’ve had coldsores just straight up disappear after taking famvir, so I recommend sprinting to the chemist as soon as the symptoms of a cold sore present—such as tingling, itching or burning, or the appearance of the first signs, such as redness or swelling. This is when the virus is reproducing rapidly.
SWITCH UP YOUR DIET
This time around, I went on a militant anti-cold sore diet. Basically, you want to eat foods that are rich in Lysine and low in Arginine, and ones that will boost your immune system. A diet rich in the amino acid lysine and low in the amino acid arginine may help control coldsore outbreaks. Also, avoid overly spicy and acidic foods, with anecdotal evidence suggesting it may worsen symptoms. Below, a guide to the foods you should be treating your tum to, and those that you should avoid with the same dedication as you do your ex.
Eat: yogurt, most cheese, apples, eggs, mangoes, apricots, pears, fish, green tea, echinacea and shitake mushrooms
Avoid: processed foods, refined flour, refined sugar, chocolate, oats, most nuts, most seeds, beef, beer and coffee (I know, that last one particularly sucks)
STOCK UP ON VITAMINS
Take the following for prevention and to help with healing: Vitamin C, Zinc, and Lysine (which suppresses argenine, an element that helps viral cells reproduce). Also, I recently found out that a b12 deficiency can trigger coldsore outbreaks (and, you know, make you super sleepy all the time), so it might be worth getting your b12 levels checked.
LEAN ON HOME REMEDIES/ANTIVIRALS
Apply ice to the affected area immediately to reduce swelling—if you get onto it asap, and use ice in conjunction with other attacks, it can be truly ~game changing~. I’ve personally never gelled with Zovirax cream, but I think the COMPEED coldsore patches work really well, in that they speed up the healing process so much, and the coldsores are much less painful/obtrusive/visible as a result. 10/10 recommend.
HYDRATE AND CATCH SOME ZZZ’s
Fatigue triggers outbreaks, so try and ensure that you’re hitting your daily sleep targets. When you have a coldsore, it’s generally a sign that your immune system ain’t doing so well, so in order to boost it—sleep as much as you can, and when you’re awake, make BFFs with your water bottle.