Cold sores are sometimes called fever blisters, and they usually appear as groups of small, angry blisters around the mouth.
They may break open and leak clear fluid before scabbing over. Cold sores that are not treated with cold sore medication usually heal after a week or two. They’re caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), of which there are two variations: HSV-1 and HSV-2. Either strain can cause cold sores.
Ninety percent of people develop at least one cold sore in their life, with the first occurrence often being the most severe. Many people develop antibodies after their first cold sore outbreak and don’t get them again. However, around 40% of adults in the US get repeated cold sores. They’re spread from one person to another through a break in the skin around or in the mouth, and can be transmitted using shared razors, towels, eating utensils, or through direct contact.
Common Cold Sore Triggers
People who get repeated cold sores may notice that certain conditions trigger outbreaks. Common triggers include:
- Illnesses like colds and flu
- Excessive emotional stress
- Cracked or injured lips
- Trauma from dental work or cosmetic procedures like chemical peels
- Sunlight and light from other ultraviolet sources like tanning beds
- Cold weather and wind
- Hormonal shifts due to pregnancy or menstruation
Knowing what triggers your cold sores helps you prepare, because using cold sore medication like Denavir at the first sign of cold sores can drastically shorten outbreak duration.
Why Winter Weather Can Trigger Cold Sores
Winter is harsh to skin in general. Cold temperatures, low humidity, and strong winds are drying, and can make even healthy skin chapped. Chapped lips are more common in cold weather, and this can lead to minor breaks in the skin, particularly in the corners of the mouth. These breaks in the skin plus irritation due to cold and wind can lead to cold sore outbreaks. People who spend a lot of time outdoors during the winter, particularly participating in winter sports, are often exposed to more ultraviolet light than most people are during winter, and this can make an outbreak more likely too. Regularly using lip balm with sunscreen can help prevent outbreaks.
Being Prepared for Winter Weather
Most people find that they need to alter their skin care routines in the winter to effectively cope with drier indoor air, low humidity, and wind. People who do fine with soap and water during the warmer months may find that switching to a gentler cleanser like Cetaphil during the winter helps reduce drying and irritation. Likewise, people who may not need a moisturizer during warm weather may find that a gentle moisturizer applied regularly during the winter reduces skin irritation. Sun can be intense in the winter too, particularly on sunny days when there is snow cover. Use of sunscreen in the winter can block some of the ultraviolet rays that can trigger cold sore outbreaks.
When Winter Brings on Cold Sores
If you regularly get cold sores in winter, it’s best to be prepared by treating skin gently. Having prescription cold sore medication like Denavir on hand is also smart during harsh winter weather. While antiviral medications like Denavir decrease symptoms and shorten the duration of a cold sore outbreak, they do not cure cold sores, and they don’t prevent transmission of cold sores. To ensure maximum effectiveness of your cold sore medication, take these steps:
- Use your cold sore medication as soon as you notice symptoms like tingling, burning or redness.
- Wash hands with soap and water before and after applying the medication, and make sure the area you’re treating is clean and dry.
- Apply a thin layer of Denavir or other cold sore medication to completely cover the area of tingling, itchiness, redness, or sores. Apply the medication at intervals as directed by your doctor.
- Cold sore medication works best when the levels absorbed by the skin remain near constant. That is why doctors recommend using it at regularly spaced intervals. You can set alarms on your phone to remind you when it’s time to reapply.
- During outbreaks, avoid kissing and other close physical contact with others. Avoid touching the sores, and if you inadvertently touch them, wash your hands with soap and water afterwards.
Winter can be difficult for people who suffer from cold sores. Many winter conditions, like wind and low humidity irritate skin and make it more prone to cold sore outbreaks.
Cold sore medication like Denavir, used at the first sign of an outbreak, can reduce the pain and duration of cold sores. eDrugstore.com sells antiviral cold sore medications like Denavir so that people who suffer from cold sore outbreaks can be ready when symptoms first appear. eDrugstore.com ships quickly – often on the same day the medication is ordered – and is strongly committed to the highest standards of customer service and online privacy.
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