Do you find you develop cold sores more frequently in winter? For some of us, the transition into the chillier season leaves us more vulnerable to outbreaks. How can we prevent that dreaded tingling of the lips returning, and what can be done when a cold sore has already reared its ugly head? Here are a few helpful ways to get rid of cold sores in winter.
Identify your risk
Have you noticed that you are more susceptible to a cold sore outbreak at the onset of winter, or even during any change of season? The winter weather itself may be to blame, as cold temperatures as well as changes in temperature can reactivate the cold sore virus. However, your immunity could also be at play here. Immune health is more vulnerable during the change of seasons, and lower immunity is associated with more cold sores. If you are more likely to get cold sores in winter or over a change of season, you may want to equip yourself with immune supplementation during that time.
Avoid dry lips
Dry, chapped lips are typical of winter weather. This can result in problems with the skin’s barrier function, which could make conditions suitable for the cold sore virus to replicate. Be sure to hydrate the lips during winter, or opt for a petroleum jelly layer to seal them off from the elements and keep cold sores at bay.
Manage moisture levels. It may sound contradictory, but despite dry lips potentially activating cold sores in winter, the best thing you can do when one appears is to let it dry out. Tea tree oil makes an excellent drying agent for cold sores as it provides both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that target the infection. Once the sore has dried out to the point where it is no longer painful, you need to moisturise it once again to prevent cracking and bleeding. Lip balm or petroleum jelly applied to the area and surrounding skin will help.
Isolate the area
Your first priority is obviously to get rid of cold sores, but you don’t want to spread them to others either – or reinfect other parts of your lips or even body. Here are a few ways to contain your cold sores in winter:
- Avoid touching, scratching, or picking at the area.
- Treat the area with tea tree oil, which will not only work on healing the wound but sterilise it as well.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Avoid sharing lip products, toothpaste, drinks, utensils etc.
- Wash items you use daily regularly: masks, makeup sponges/brushes and towels.
- Avoid skin-to-skin contact with others while the cold sore is present.
There are a number of ways to minimise your cold sore outbreak or even nip it in the bud before it becomes full-blown:
– Hold a cold compress to the area for a few minutes at a time as often as possible.
– Take a loading dose of a lysine supplement at the first signs of cold sores or try topical lysine ointments.
– If you want to go with a prescription treatment, use cold sore topical medications with drying agents to speed up healing – acyclovir, penciclovir or docosanol all have antiviral properties.
– Use tea tree oil to help get rid of your cold sores. Tea tree oil is an effective remedy as it contains antiviral, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, helping to both dry out the area and kill bacteria naturally.
Jené from Johannesburg says this about our Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil, “I have tried this product on cold sores and sores for the kids… It really works. Will definitely continue buying it!”
As soon as you feel the tingle of a cold sore about to erupt, place a drop of tea tree oil onto a cotton bud and dab the affected area, applying three to five times per day. (Also see other uses for tea tree oil, from bad breath, dandruff and acne to thrush, cuts and scratches and even mould removal.)