When a cold sore's not making itself a huge lip ache, it's snoozing in the nerves below your skin, just waiting for a reason to wake up. And what sets off its alarm clock?
- Infection, colds and flu
- Ultraviolet radiation, such as a sunburn
- Changes in the immune system
- Food allergies
- Dental work
To help avoid some of these triggers, practice stress-busting techniques like exercise, meditation, yoga, or reading. Avoid acidic and salty foods like potato chips or citrus fruits as they can further irritate cold sores and add to the pain.
Get plenty of sleep. Decades of scientific research demonstrate that seven to nine hours of sleep are best for the human body to perform at optimum levels, including immune system effectiveness. And sleep helps you fend off the energy-sapping effects of yet another trigger: stress.
And speaking of your immune system, any medications that zero in on certain types of autoimmune illnesses can depress your body's immune system and affect your ability to fight off cold sore viruses. Same goes for drugs that target cancer.
Resting and de-stressing properly also helps you fend of illness in general, like respiratory infections, which can contribute to the emergence of cold sores.