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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.

Copyright Health Magazine 2011


soundoff (93 Responses)
  1. M

    6000 mg of lysine as soon as it starts will stop it in its tracks.

    May 7, 2012 at 21:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. poncho

    l-lysine – readily available over the counter in drug stores and health food stores – will stop it before it starts. I suffered for years. This truly HELPS!

    May 7, 2012 at 22:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Luke

    Lysine found in the vitamin aisle. I take 500 mg everyday. I used to get them every fall and especially the spring. But not any more. If I do get a cold sore it's because I've forgotten to take lysine for a few days coupled with sun exposure and/or stress. I rarely get them any more. Lysine truly works. It's the only vitamin/supplement I take.

    May 7, 2012 at 22:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Geoff

    I'm 55 yrs old. I've suffered from coldsores since my teens...as soon as I feel that tingly onset, usually stress, not taking care of myself, dehydrated, I take 1000mg of Lysine, then 500mg the following several days. Drink lots of H2O and flush your system...it always works...drys up in 48 hrs.

    May 8, 2012 at 00:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Mr. B

    Apply peroxide on a cold sore will help get rid of it within a day or two. Use a Q tip to put it on every half hour and it will dry it out.

    May 8, 2012 at 02:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Jimmy

    Most everyone here has it right. My wife (before we were married) and her boyfriend used to get cold sores all the time. I was friends with my wife before we started dating. I knew about Lysine and went out and bought a bottle for her and her boyfriend to share. It cleared both of them up in a few days. My wife never gets them anymore, but for people with a cronic situation, you might need to take a small dose every day.

    Another alternative, after taking the large doses for a few days, is to make sure you get a 'normal' amount of lysine in your diet. Lysine is found in things like Beef, Tofu (soybeans), Kidney beans, Chickpeas (hummus).

    May 8, 2012 at 07:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Eileen

    None of the above really worked for me. Then I happened to have a cold sore when I went to the dentist who prescribed a small tube of Denavir to use on it and also tablets to take when I first felt any tingling. Both worked miracles! I never bothered with OTC meds again and keep Denavir and the tablets available all the time.

    May 8, 2012 at 08:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Steve

    Lysine works quite well as prevention. Also 1000 mg of Valtrex (prescription) if one occurs and then another 1000mg a day for 2 or 3 days. Things that contribute to cold sores, not enough rest, caffeine/stress, sun exposure. To speed up healing, take 1,000 Vit C (EmergenC) a day. Do not pop blister, keep lubricated with Vaseline or chapstick – Kielhls works quite well). While healing, neosporin can take discoloration away and you can hide with concealer.

    May 8, 2012 at 09:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. GooglyMoogly

    I had a horrible extended outbreak of cold sores last year. I read about dentists using lasers to treat them, so I tried it. The dentist zapped the cold sore and the skin around it. It cost $65, but I haven't had one since. I always used to get them in the same spot, so this may not work for everyone.

    May 8, 2012 at 13:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. stdpalcom

    don't upset by herpes. I met several people who infected by herpes on herpesanddating,net. They said they can manage the herpes using several easily methods. If you are interested, please check the details on my page. The same username. Good luck!

    May 17, 2012 at 22:42 | Report abuse | Reply
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    You are in point of fact a excellent webmaster. The website loading pace is incredible. It sort of feels that you are doing any unique trick. Also, The contents are masterpiece. you have performed a magnificent process on this topic!

    May 21, 2012 at 18:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. abby

    I just watched a great and disturbing video about cold sores here http://youtu.be/XPgfQLFdMpA

    May 30, 2012 at 20:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Gemma chapman

    Lipafix is a daily supplement containing lysine along with vital vitamins to stop the virus and further prevent it from coming back! I ordered it online and since then have never looked back! I swear by it!

    July 4, 2012 at 08:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. John

    I tried these methods on this ebook and it is the best advice i ever got on preventing cold sores. This really works and i am happy with it. try it http://gum.co/yVDh

    March 31, 2013 at 12:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Josephine

    I found an all-natural cure called MIRACLE LIPS that can prevent a cold sore from ever coming back! It's made with tea tree oil and bee propolis. I like the salve because it is thicker and stays on longer, but it comes in a roll-on serum as well. EXCELLENT healer of dry, chapped lips. If you feel a tingle of a cold sore come on, Miracle Lips will prevent it from coming out. If you have a cold sore, this will help it to heal fast. This has something to do with the tea tree oil being anti-viral. Check it out http://www.holocuren.com/miracle-lips.php

    December 27, 2013 at 00:44 | Report abuse | Reply
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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.