The conditions cold sores love
A cold sore favours certain conditions within the body. The virus will replicate and grow if at least one of the following occurs:
High arginine levels
Arginine is a protein which aids the cold sore virus. When arginine is present within a cell, the virus is more likely to take hold and replicate, leading to a cold sore outbreak. If arginine levels are not raised then often the virus will retreat, saving you from a nasty blister.
- Counter-attack – Foods high in arginine are best avoided during a cold sore outbreak. These include nuts, wholegrains, lentils, gelatin and chocolate. For those of us with a sweet tooth the last one will be hard to accept!
Lysine supplements have proven an effective cold sore remedy for some. The protein which naturally occurs within the body prevents arginine from increasing within cells, which in turn prevents the cold sore virus from developing.
A warm, moist environment
That’s it in a nutshell. The herpes virus thrives in warm, moist conditions as this best facilitates the replication process.
- Counter-attack – Freeze the cold sore away! Well, not literally but an ice pack at the first sign of a tingle is a sure fire way to delay a cold sore or even lessen the extent to which the cold sore develops.
An acidic environment
Our bodies pH balance should always sit at around 7.4, which is slightly alkaline. Generally speaking, the body performs best within a healthy range of 6.5 – 7.5. If the balance drops to 6.4 or below then conditions in the body will become more acidic than is desirable. This can occur following increased sun exposure or during illness, such as a cold or the flu. Stress can also raise acidity levels in the body.
- Counter-attack – Eat foods with a high alkaline content such as broccoli, cucumber, kale, peppers and spinach. Fruits such as apples, bananas and melons are also good options. Avoid eating acidic, citrus foods while your cold sore is healing too. Direct contact with citrus juice is both painful and may negatively affect the healing time of your cold sore.
For more information on the causes of cold sores, visit the NHS website.