The last thing you need before a hot date is a painful cold sore. Suffer no more: here’s what you need to know about getting rid of a nasty cold sore. Plus, we share tips on preventing those suckers in the first place!
What are cold sores?
To put it plainly, cold sores are blisters that occur around the lip and are activated by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Cold sores are the symptom of a virus, which lies dormant in the body until it’s reactivated, and you can pick it up through sharing lip-gloss, drinks and even utensils with somebody suffering from an outbreak.
If you’ve never had a cold sore, it can be difficult to decipher between a scratch, or a pimple, so to help diagnose, look for pain, itchiness and redness. If left untreated, cold sores can last up to six to 10 days, so it’s important not to ignore or leave them unattended. The sooner you find out what your outbreak is the better chances you have of treating and healing it fast.
For fast and reliable cold sore treatment, you’ll want to pick up Abreva, the #1 pharmacist-recommended over-the-counter product “ and the only treatment that contains docosanol, an active medicinal ingredient that helps prevent the spread of the virus to surrounding healthy skin cells. It’s also been clinically proven to shorten the duration of a cold sore, which makes a world of difference if you’ve got plans to face crowds.
Of course, if you’re not sure whether or not what you have is a cold sore, you’ll want to speak to your family physician or local pharmacist “ especially if you’ve never experienced a cold sore outbreak and are unfamiliar with what it entails or how you contracted it.
While up to 90 percent of adults carry the cold sore virus, only 20 to 40 percent will ever experience symptoms. If you are suffering from an outbreak, avoid touching your cold sore, and if you do, wash your hands immediately afterwards to avoid spreading the virus to somebody else. Friends don’t give friends cold sores! Also, avoid sharing food, utensils or towels, and “ of course “ kissing, since once contracted, the virus will never leave your (or someone else’s) body. Another reason to nix it before the big date.
If you’re a frequent sufferer of cold sores and are hoping to ward off an outbreak, avoid extreme cold and wind, fatigue, stress and sun exposure, and during periods of hormonal changes, make sure you’re well rested and moisturized (since dryness can also increase your chance of a cold sore outbreak). Also, if you’ve cut your mouth or have experienced mouth trauma, take extra precaution: cold sores can flair up when your lips are left vulnerable.
If you’re serious about treating and preventing cold sores, it’s crucial to know fact from fiction. A recent Harris/Decima survey commissioned by Abreva revealed there’s a lot of misinformation out there! A quarter of cold sore sufferers between ages 18 and 24 believed placing a tea bag on the infected area would help eliminate pain, but the fact is only medicinal ingredients like docosanol will offer relief while stopping the virus from spreading.
Another crazy myth: Distilled vinegar can help prevent cold sores. (Seriously, do you really want to rub vinegar on your lips everyday? That is definitely a dating don’t!) Be wary of unproven treatments and stick to the verified method. Especially since one in 10 Canadian women admitted they would miss work or a social event if they had a cold sore.
The bottom line
Your best bet is to treat cold sores at the first sign of symptoms with a product like Abreva, and to prevent an outbreak by getting enough sleep, eating a well-balanced diet and exercising (the same way you would avoid coming down with any other virus). Keep lips moisturized through lip balms and by drinking plenty of water, and apply sunscreen regularly if spending time outside. While you’ll carry the virus forever, you needn’t suffer because of it: just keep your immune system boosted and treat cold sores immediately to reclaim control.