Your lifestyle can play an important role in managing cold sores. By making certain lifestyle changes, you may be able to reduce the number of outbreaks you have. You may also be able to reduce the symptoms and their severity.
Sunlight is known to cause outbreaks of cold sores. Although it is impossible to avoid all sun exposure there are steps to decrease the sun's effect. Use sunscreen on your lips and skin. Also, whenever you go outside in sunny weather, wear a large-brimmed hat. This will help to protect your face from the ultraviolet rays.
Physical and emotional stress may reduce the body’s ability to fight herpes simplex virus (HSV). This can trigger an outbreak of cold sores. Exercise may actually help to reduce emotional stress. However, an excessive amount of exercise can weaken the body. Relaxation techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing, can help to reduce emotional stress.
Good hygiene can prevent the spread of cold sores. It can also help to reduce the length and severity of the outbreaks. During an outbreak:
The body heals fastest when it receives rest and good nutrition. Strive for a good night’s sleep. Eat a balanced, healthful diet on a daily basis.
Cold sores. Nemours Kids Health website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/common/cold_sores.html. Updated February 2014. Accessed February 17, 2014.
Herpes simplex. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/contagious-skin-diseases/herpes-simplex. Accessed February 17, 2014.
Kuehl B. Cold sores: how to prevent and treat them. Skin Care Guide website. Available at: http://www.skincareguide.ca/articles/herpes/to_prevent_cold_sores.html. Accessed February 17, 2014.
Oral herpes. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115104/Oral-herpes. Updated October 5, 2015. Accessed October 4, 2016.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board David L. Horn, MD Last Updated: 3/15/2015