Lifestyle Changes to Manage Cold Sores (Herpes Simplex Type 1)
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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.
- ]]>Avoid excessive exposure to the sun.]]>
- ]]>Reduce physical and emotional stress.]]>
- ]]>Practice good hygiene habits.]]>
- ]]>Avoid certain foods.]]>
- ]]>Get adequate sleep and eat a healthful diet.]]>
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Beers MH, Fletcher AJ, et al. Merck Manual of Medical Information . 2nd ed. Whitehouse Station, NJ: Merck Research Laboratories; 2003.
Cold sore. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cold-sore/DS00358 . Updated July 2008. Accessed September 24, 2008.
Herpes simplex. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: http://www.aad.org/default.htm . Accessed September 24, 2008.
Miller C. Oral herpes/cold sores essential facts. Australian Herpes Management Forum website. Available at: http://www.ahmf.com.au/oral_herpes/essential_facts.htm . Updated June 2007. Accessed September 24, 2008.
Last reviewed July 2008 by ]]>David Horn, MD, FACP]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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