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How to Help Prevent Cold Sores

You’ve researched the cold sore treatment options, you’ve started treatment at the earliest stages of a cold sore, and it has finally disappeared.

But what can you do to help prevent cold sores from coming back?

There are two key tactics.  1) Identifying and avoiding your cold sore triggers. 2) Making sure cold sores don’t spread, either to other parts of your body, or to other people.

Cold Sore Triggers

Once a cold sore is fully healed, it signals there is no more active virus likely to be present in the lip area, but there is no known way to eliminate it from your body altogether.  The virus remains dormant in your nervous system until activated by a trigger.

Cold sores can appear seemingly without reason, but over time, you will notice there are predisposing conditions, or triggers, which can lead to a cold sore.  Learning to recognize these cold sore triggers means you can minimize exposure to them, and in turn minimize your cold sore outbreaks.

The most common triggers are:

  • Stress such as from work or family  
  • Sunlight, tanning beds
  • Cold weather conditions
  • Hormone changes such as menstruation or pregnancy
  • Fever, cold, or flu
  • Dental treatment or injury to the lips or gums
  • Cosmetic surgery such as dermabrasion or laser skin treatments. 
  • Food allergies

The best way to identify your cold sore triggers is to track any activity you did prior to developing a cold sore.  Note any possible triggers once you notice the prodromal symptoms such as tingling, numbing, itching, or even pain on or around, the lips.

These symptoms are like an “early warning system” that can alert you to the onset of the cold sore and the beginning of the infectious period.  By noting them, you can take steps to avoid them. In the future for example, protect your skin from sunlight by using an SPF lip balm or sunscreen. For more tips, see our top five tips for preventing cold sores.

If you can’t avert a cold sore, recognising your cold sore triggers can help you shorten the duration of the cold sore, by allowing you to have your cold sore treatment options ready for use during the first stages.

Preventing the Spreading of Cold Sores

The second part of preventing cold sores is limiting the spread of cold sores both to other people and to other parts of your body.

As cold sores can spread to other parts of your body, such as your eyes and genitals, it is crucial that you don’t touch your cold sore. A cold sore patch, like the POLYSPORIN® Cold Sore Healing Patch, can help prevent the spread of the virus by keeping the outbreak contained.

To avoid spreading cold sores when you have them, avoid intimate contact, such as kissing, and do not share things such as cutlery, glasses, towels, razors or toothbrushes.  Or to avoid getting them in the first place, avoid these activities with people who have active cold sores.

By following these prevention tips, you can make sure you’re not taking any chances.