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Winter means snow, ice, warm nights by the fire and… cold sore season. I am unfortunate enough to be a regular cold sore sufferer. Although I get them in spring, summer and Autumn, I am more prone in these colder months, I receive at least two cold sore ‘visits’ each winter. Here are my prevention and cures to promote a ‘flying visit’ rather than a long stay.

Preventing the spread
– Don’t share lip balm or lipstick. With anyone.
– No double-dipping when using disposable lip gloss wands or lipstick brushes.
– Avoid touching your lips. If you do need to (to apply ointment) wash hands throroughly with soap before AND after.

Curing the sore
Cold sores are caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus and cold sore sufferers will have contracted this once upon a time (often in childhood). The virus passes into the skin and lays dormant for some time, often years, until it is triggered. Stress, tiredness, fatigue, injury/ cuts to the lips, and even that time of the month can trigger the cold sores… and they come when you least expect it. Grr!

Here’s what NHS direct have to say about them…
“An outbreak of cold sores will usually start with a tingling, itching or burning sensation around your mouth. Small fluid-filled sores will then develop, usually on the edges of your lower lip.”
…mmmm, lovely.

They’re best treated using aciclovir or penciclovir. These are the active ingredients in cold sore creams and patches, and when used at the tingling stage, they can speed up the healing process.

Cream vs patch?
They’re best treated using aciclovir or penciclovir. These are the active ingredients in cold sore creams, and when used at the tingling stage, they can speed up the healing process. Any later than the tingle stage and the creams will be ineffective. The patches often contain a gel called hydrocolloid, which helps skin wounds heal. The patches can be placed over the cold sore while it heals.

Pump vs tube?
I prefer pumps. For everything. Pumps are more hygienic. With tubes, a little product is almost always sucked back into the tube after being exposed to the air/ your finger.

Not sure what I am talking about? When brushing your teeth tonight, have a look at the little bit of excess paste on the tube head after you’ve taken what you need.

With tubes the top bit of cream in the tube is already contaminated before you’ve applied it to your lips.

The other problem with the tubes for cold sore creams in particular is that they are made of that flexible metal. Flexible, yes, but bend it too much and it splits. You don’t usually bend it intentionally but toss it in your handbag and after a bit of knocking around, you’ll have an a mini-mess on your hands. The plastic pump top packaging removes this problem.

What’s the damage?
Most cold sores last just over a week and don’t leave scars. My cold sores are not like most cold sores… mine last between a week and two weeks and repeated or multiple cold sores at once have left visible scarring on the left side of my lower lip. Sad times. But that’s where makeup comes into play. Good times!

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