1) Strengthen your immune system
Cold sores are caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV-1), so your immune system plays a big role in their prevention and healing – just like any other virus!
Make sure your diet provides you with plenty of immune boosting vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, zinc and vitamin D. As long as your diet is healthy and varied, with lots of fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, you should be getting plenty of vitamin C and zinc, but you may need an additional vitamin D supplement since sunlight can be hard to come across in the winter months!
For more tips on increasing your intake of these nutrients, read my article on ‘3 essential vitamins and minerals for the immune system.’
Echinacea is a popular herb for strengthening the immune system. You can find this in a number of forms, from teas to tablets. Our own Echinacea tablets and drops are made from fresh, organic Echinacea herb and root, and are popular remedies amongst our customers.
If you fall unwell with a cold, flu or other infection, be extra cautious as your immune system will be so busy fighting off this infection that you may become vulnerable to an outbreak of cold sores. Echinaforce is a great way to support your immune system during its fight against colds and flu.
2) Keep lips healthy and hydrated
One of the biggest triggers for cold sores is cold, harsh weather. During the winter this is obviously hard to avoid, and I wouldn’t recommend just staying indoors all day!
Instead, make sure to counteract the negative effects of this weather. Use a natural, nourishing lip balm to keep your lips hydrated and protected against the elements. While our Bio-Propolis is mostly used as a cold sore treatment, many people use it as an everyday lip balm as well!
Our friends over at Jan de Vries also have a fantastic range of natural and vegan lip balms, such as this Green People Lip Balm.
Make sure to dress warmly and drink plenty of water as well!
3) Avoid arginine rich foods
While a healthy diet is vital for keeping your whole body healthy and keeping your immune system strong, there are a few foods that you may want to avoid if you’re prone to cold sores.
Arginine is an amino acid that is thought to be involved with the development of cold sores, so foods that are rich in this chemical should be avoided where possible. The unfortunate thing is that many of these foods are actually packed full of nutrients and a really beneficial part of your diet otherwise!
Arginine-rich foods include nuts, seeds, chocolate, spirulina, squash, oats and wheat. However, as many of these foods are also very healthy, I wouldn’t recommend cutting them out altogether – instead, try to reduce your intake of these foods and increase your intake of healthy alternatives.
For more tips read my article on ‘7 arginine rich foods to avoid if you get cold sores’.
4) Take an L-Lysine supplement
L-lysine, or just lysine, is another amino acid that’s thought to affect cold sores – but this time, it’s thought to help prevent them. Scientists aren’t quite sure why it helps: some think it inhibits the enzyme that triggers the virus, while some think it opposes the action of arginine.
However it works, many people swear by this method! Taking an L-lysine supplement is a good way to offset the arginine found in the healthy foods you’re eating, meaning you don’t have to give up on nuts, seeds and oats altogether. Why not try this Solgar L-Lysine supplement from our friends at Jan de Vries?
Fish, dairy, apricots, avocado and pears are all good natural sources of lysine.
5) Keep stress to a minimum
With the festive break approaching, stress can become a real issue. Many of us will be rushing around trying to buy food in, get work finished before the break, buy gifts and juggle too many family members under one roof.
However, stress will slowly wear down your body and your immune system, leaving you vulnerable to an outbreak. It’s really common to develop a cold sore when you’re feeling a bit run down, tired or stressed, as I’m sure many of you will have noticed!
Take some time to relax and de-stress – whether it’s a bath in the evening, reading a book in bed for 10 minutes, or just practising deep breathing on your way home from work. A stress remedy like our Stress Relief Daytime can be really helpful if you’re struggling to keep control of your stress levels, as it helps to gently calm your system down.
6) Get plenty of sleep
On a similar train of thought, it’s really important to get plenty of sleep if you’re trying to avoid cold sores. Your body uses sleep to repair and restore itself, and many important immune functions take place during the night, so getting plenty of sleep is a must-have.
Similarly to stress, a lack of sleep will leave you run down and fatigued, which puts a lot of extra pressure on your body and can contribute to a sudden cold sore outbreak!
Reducing stress during the day can often help to ease sleep problems at night, but there can be so many other factors contributing to sleep issues – from your diet to dehydration, the weather and even a number of health conditions.
For sleep problems I’d recommend our Dormeasan, a blend of valerian and hops that helps to ease your body into a natural sleep cycle, so it won’t have the groggy side effects associated with sleeping tablets.
If menopausal hot flushes are interrupting your sleep, try taking one of our Menoforce sage tablets in the evening.
Treating your cold sore
If you are unfortunate enough to develop a cold sore, then quick treatment is essential! As soon as you feel that first tingle, apply Bio-Propolis or another cold sore ointment to the affected area. Bio-Propolis can be applied up to 5 times a day, so make sure to reapply throughout the day and throughout the course of the cold sore cycle.
Even if you miss the initial tingling stage, Bio-Propolis will still help, so make sure to apply it as soon as you notice that sore appearing!
“Wonderful natural treatment for cold sores and dry lips, I use it regularly. I wouldn't be without Bio-propolis cold sore ointment.”
You could try some Manuka Honey if you can’t get hold of a cold sore ointment. This specific type of honey is thought to contain chemicals that can heal cold sores and fight the HSV-1 virus. It also leaves a sticky, protective layer over the sore to prevent it getting infected.
A vitamin C supplement can also be a good way to boost the immune system and help it fight the infection. Our own vitamin C supplement, Nature-C, uses naturally occurring vitamin C from fruits like acerola, sea buckthorn, prickly gooseberry and blackcurrant. Each tablet provides a fantastic 100mg of highly absorbable vitamin C.