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What the Yuck: How can I prevent cold sores?
May 6th, 2012
08:04 AM ET

What the Yuck: How can I prevent cold sores?

Too embarrassed to ask your doctor about sex, body quirks, or the latest celeb health fad? In a regular feature and a new book, "What the Yuck?!," Health magazine medical editor Dr. Roshini Raj tackles your most personal and provocative questions. Send 'em to Dr. Raj at whattheyuck@health.com.

Q: I get cold sores all the time. It's so embarrassing - I don't want to go on dates or even be seen at work when I have one. Is there any way to prevent them?

Those pesky cold sores that pop up on or around your lips or nose are generally caused by a strain of the herpes simplex virus (HSV), known as HSV-1. True to the name, a cold can bring on a sore - and so can a fever, which is why they're sometimes called fever blisters.

Bolstering your immune system by eating well, getting plenty of rest and avoiding stress (that's the hard one, right?) may help you steer clear. Sun is also a common trigger, so don't ever step outside without a high-SPF lip balm.

There's no reason to suffer through embarrassing outbreaks: Ask your doctor for a prescription for an anti-viral medicine. If you fill it in advance and take it at the first hint of a sore, it makes your outbreak milder and less noticeable.


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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