Coping with cold sores, a girl’s guide…

There are two types of people in the world when it comes to lip maintenance; those that suffer from cold sores, and those that’s don’t. If you don’t, consider yourself one of the lucky ones.

The cold sore virus (called ‘HSV-1’ i.e. herpes simplex virus-1) is present in most of the population, and there is no permanent cure for it but, for many, the virus lays dormant without any effect.

For the rest of us however, we become prone to cold sores. They can manifest as a sign we are run-down and are usually triggered by harsh weather, such as the recent below freezing temperatures, and ferocious winds. All it takes for a cold sore to appear in weather like this is leaving the house without a scarf wrapped high to shield the lips. Sun also acts as a trigger so sunblock on the lips is vital for cold sore sufferers.

As a long time sufferer, I’ve tried everything in my treatment of them over the years. Every old wives tale that came my way got a turn, from perfume to toothpaste.

Cold sore sufferers know precisely the moment we feel one coming on. It’s just like that clever advert a few years ago with the clock that starts ticking on the lip. That tingle is the telltale sign, and needs immediate treatment if there’s any chance of containing it. So often I’ve ignored that tingle, or convinced myself it was just a little blister, only to regret my naivety later.

Traditional treatments I’ve used (among others) inlcude Zovirax, Lysine supplements for prevention, Compeed patches, and more recently Bio-Propolis. All which do work – when used properly.

The trick with treating a cold sore with a cream like Zovirax or an ointment like Bio-Propolis is ‘less is more’. If you take a big blob of cream and place it clumsily over the sore spilling over to the skin around it then you have only yourself to blame when the cold sore spreads. And if it’s in the early stages, it most certainly will.

Treat cold sores very carefully, use a mirror and delicately dab a tiny bit of cream at the peak of the sore. Repeat as frequently as possible, using only tiny dabs each time.

Remember to wash your hands, and don’t use anything on your face that could carry the infection. Cold sores are highly contagious in the early stages so even your toothbrush will need replacing if you’ve had a bad case.

Girls, remember to be SO careful with your make-up. If you let your favourite lipstick near a cold sore, then say goodbye to it. Same applies to lip pencils, gloss and anything else. If you’re covering up on a night out, take a cue tip and gather a small chunk of lipstick on that to apply. It’s never worth the risk – I’d bin a lippy any day if it meant avoiding an(other) annoying cold sore.

By Olivia O’Sullivan

This article first appeared in the Limerick Post 2nd February 2013