Your lifestyle can play an important role in the management of cold sores. By making certain lifestyle changes, you may be able to reduce the number of outbreaks you have. You may also reduce the symptoms and their severity.

General Guidelines

Avoid Excessive Exposure to the Sun

Exposure to sunlight is known to cause outbreaks of cold sores. Although it is impossible to avoid all sun exposure, use sunscreen on your lips and skin to help reduce the sun’s effect. Also, whenever you go outside in sunny weather, wear a large-brimmed hat to protect your face from the ultraviolet rays.

Reduce Physical and Emotional Stress

Physical and emotional stress may reduce the body’s ability to fight herpes simplex virus (HSV) and trigger an outbreak of cold sores. Although exercise may actually help to reduce emotional stress, an excessive amount can weaken the body. Relaxation techniques , such as meditation and deep breathing, can help reduce emotional stress.

Practice Good Hygiene Habits

Good hygiene can prevent the spread of cold sores and help reduce the length and severity of the outbreaks. During an outbreak:

  • Avoid touching the sores, especially avoid contact with any open cuts on your skin.
  • Wash your hands frequently during the day.
  • Keep your fingernails clean by scrubbing daily.
  • Take care not to spread the virus to other parts of your body, such as the eyes and genital area.

Avoid Certain Foods

Foods that irritate the tissue of the lips and mouth, such as certain fruit or spices, may trigger a cold sore outbreak. These food-related “triggers” are different for every person. Be aware of your food triggers and avoid them.

Get Adequate Sleep and Eat a Healthful Diet

The body heals fastest when it receives rest and good nutrition. Strive for a good night’s sleep, along with a balanced, healthful diet on a daily basis.