Wondering why you sometimes have blisters around your mouth, nose, or lips? Those painful blisters are cold sores. People sometimes blame the common cold for these sores. However, cold sores are an infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). The blisters usually occur around the mouth, but they can sometimes appear on the cheeks or nose too. Around 20% to 40% of people who have been infected with HSV will have a cold sore at least once in their lives. Cold sores are annoying but not life-threatening; however, very young children can sometimes suffer from severe complications when infected.
Once you contract the virus, it remains dormant in your body, but sometimes an outbreak occurs. However, the blisters will disappear after a few weeks. For a cold sore treatment to be effective, it is essential to understand factors that trigger the infection.
Here are some common triggers for a cold sore outbreak:
If you already have the herpes simplex virus in your body, stress and anxiety can trigger an outbreak of fever blisters. When a person is anxious and feels overwhelmed, their immune system is vulnerable. Your immune system prevents infection, and if it is not working at 100%, it might not be able to fight the virus effectively. The dormant virus becomes active and causes the appearance of the fever blisters.
Stress also induces hormonal changes that can lead to an infection. Therefore, you should avoid stress if at all possible. You can also learn to deal with anxiety by exercising frequently and using breathing exercises to help you relax. Even dental trauma can increase your chances of having an outbreak, and the treatment may accelerate the appearance of fever blisters.
Fatigue weakens your immune system and makes it vulnerable to attacks, giving the virus a window of opportunity. Your body needs enough rest to keep it healthy and active, so you should make sure to get enough sleep. Several factors can hinder you from getting a good night’s sleep. You need to check your caffeine intake, reduce your stress levels, and regulate your alcohol consumption. Quality sleep every day keeps your body healthy and prevents cold sores.
- Fever, Flu, and Cold
High temperature, flu, and the cold will compromise your immune system, leaving you prone to infections. If you have a serious illness, get immediate medical attention. Dealing with diseases as soon as they occur reduces your vulnerability. You should also consider getting a flu vaccination to prevent frequent outbreaks. Also, you should avoid cold weather conditions as much as possible – during the winter, dress for the cold weather and stay indoors. Winter conditions make your lips dry, hence triggering fever blisters. Maintaining a balanced diet, staying hydrated, and getting quality sleep will also reduce your chances of falling sick.
- Hormonal Changes
Hormonal imbalance in women, especially during pregnancy and menstruation, can lead to cold sores. The hormones in your body during those times increase your chances of getting the fever blisters. In addition, hormonal changes increase your stress levels and fatigue. While there is little you can do about your hormones, you can find ways to deal with your stress levels and reduce fatigue. You need to learn to stay calm and try to control strong emotions – yoga has been shown to be an effective way to reduce stress levels. You could also take naps during the day to reduce fatigue.
- Exposure to the Sun and Shaving
Do you get more cold sores during the summer? It is probably due to exposure to the sun, as UV rays are proven triggers for an outbreak. So does that mean you stay indoors throughout summer? Of course not, with sunscreen lip balm and a hat you can enjoy sunbathing without causing an outbreak. Whether you are hiking or taking a walk, have your SPF lip balm with you.
Apart from avoiding cold sore triggers, you should also stay away from people with blisters. You can easily contract the virus from body contact or sharing utensils and beverages.