If coldsores are a recurring nightmare for you, you are not alone. Up to 80 per cent of the adult population are infected with the cold sore virus with approximately 30 per cent having apparent reoccurring outbreaks. Health and beauty expert Fiona Tuck, MD of Skinstitut Australia and author of the myth minx, investigates what cold sores are and can they really be banished for good?
Cold sores are characterised by painful, burning or itching clusters of small blisters usually found on the lips and oral mucous membranes. Cold sores (namely herpes labalis) are due to a virus called HSV-1 or herpes simplex virus which, once transmitted, can remain latent in the nerve root ganglion of infected individuals. After the initial infection this dormant virus seemly disappears only to be reactivated under stress. Reoccurring breakouts have been found to be more common in individuals with high stress levels such as personal trauma, emotional stress and work levels such as personal trauma, emotional stress and work-related pressures.
Additional stressors that may attribute to reactivation of the virus include:
Physical and emotional trauma
Compromised immune system
Diet can also play an aggravating part and high sugar, refined carbohydrates and high arginine consumption has been found to further aggravate this condition.
When the herpes virus invades a cell it alters cell metabolism causing it to synthesise virus specific proteins high in the amino acid arginine and low in the amino acid lysine. A diet high in lysine and low in arginine may well assist with the inhibition of the virus.
Minimise arginine-rich foods such as:
Nuts and seeds
Grains (eg. wheat, oats, rice, corn)
Berries grapes, garlic, orange juice
Eat more lysine-rich foods such as:
Beef, lamb, chicken and turkey
Dairy (eg. milk, cheese, yoghurt)
Fruits and vegetables particularly avocado, beetroot, apples, mango, pears
Supplemental lysine can be taken prior to an expected outbreak such as prior to a stressful event, surgery or an intensive skin treatment such as a chemical peel or laser treatment.
Over the counter medications are also available for topical application to a lesion and prescription medication may also be taken to prevent an expected outbreak. Colloidal silver (available from health foods stores) is a wonderful natural treatment to heal and clear breakouts. The liquid can be applied topically to the lesion and reapplied regularly to speed healing time. Application prior to the lesion at the dreaded tingle ‘I can feel an outbreak coming’ stage can also be beneficial in preventing a blister from actually appearing.
So whilst we cannot ever get rid of the virus we can certainly help prevent cold sore flare ups by looking at stress busting techniques such as yoga and meditation and controlling dietary intake of lysine and arginine rich foods.