It’s common to bump into or see someone with a cold sore. Anyone can suffer from them, with the WHO estimating that two-thirds of people under 50 years old are infected. However, some people are more prone to cold sores than others. A cold sore, also known as fever blister, is a tiny inflamed blister located around the mouth or lips. It is a viral infection caused by the herpes simplex virus and is easily spread from one person to another.
Why do cold sores recur in some people?
Coming into close contact with someone who has the virus can easily lead to infection. The contact can be in the form of kissing, causing the transfer of the virus to you even if the person has no visible symptoms. Once inside the body, the virus incubates for approximately 20 days for a first-timer and less for a recurring experience before the first symptoms appear. First cold sores tend to be more severe than recurring ones, which typically appear on the same spot.
Before the sore appears, it goes through several stages and normally lasts for a week to ten days. In the first stage, you experience an itching or burning sensation around the mouth, which lasts a day or two, then a hard spot appears and finally erupts to form painful blisters. The blister is the second stage and can form on the cheeks and nose too. The final stage is when the blisters merge, burst, and ooze, forming a scab.
Some people only suffer cold sores once, while they keep recurring in others. After an infection episode, the virus remains dormant in your nervous system and forms other cold sores once it’s triggered. Most people carry around this virus without knowing since it’s never activated. Fortunately, recurring cold sores tend to be less severe than first-time ones, but they are still painful and uncomfortable. Cold sore treatment is done to manage the condition and not cure it.
How can I prevent recurring cold sores?
As mentioned above, cold sores can return when the dormant Herpes simplex virus is triggered. Technically, the sores should clear by themselves after a maximum of two weeks, and if they don’t, you should see a physician for cold sore treatment. However, to stop them from appearing again, you must understand what causes the breakout and how to avoid them.
Anyone carrying the virus is at risk of having cold sores reappear, but certain factors contribute to that. Some examples include fatigue and prolonged exposure to wind or sunlight. Additionally, kissing, performing oral sex, sharing towels, utensils, and sharp blades with infected persons exposes you to the virus.
Avoid close skin contact with unknown persons and avoid sharing personal items with someone who has apparent symptoms like a blister on the lip. Wash utensils thoroughly with soap and water to clear the virus.
Common factors that result in cold sore recurrence
Some other factors can trigger the herpes simplex virus in your nerve cells, creating cold sore episodes. They include;
- Weakened immune system
The immune system is responsible for protecting the body against foreign invaders. However, the body cannot control the cold sore virus if the system is weak; hence, the cold sores recur.
Stress is a common cold sore causing factor. It interferes with your body, affecting the general immune system, digestive system, and others. It weakens the body, and the virus replicates to cause an outbreak. Avoid stress as much as possible to prevent an outbreak.
This process contributes to blood loss and fluctuating hormones within the body. As a result, the body is put under a lot of pressure, affecting its normal functioning. Therefore, cold sores tend to appear before or after the cycle. Indulging in a lot of vitamin-rich foods can prevent sores during this period.
A body infection or physical intrusion during surgery changes the body’s chemical composition and puts it under stress, activating the virus.
As discussed above, cold sores are common, but they only recur in some people. There is no cure for the viral infection, but a cold sore treatment can be administered to manage the symptoms. Despite recurring cold sores not being as severe as the first ones, it’s still best to avoid triggers that would cause secondary outbreaks since they may yet be painful.
How Can I Avoid Recurring Cold Sores? is a feature post