First things first – apologies for mentioning the big ‘W’ word at such an early stage. Following such an extraordinary summer, it’s hard to believe we’ll soon be looking at dreary days and cold nights once again.
Unfortunately, this is something of an inevitability here in the UK. And with the cold weather comes the equal inevitability of various bugs and blemishes for millions of us.
A prime example of which being cold sores, which for many sufferers have a habit of being far more prevalent in the winter. You find yourself feeling that familiar tingle and before you know it, you’re having a tough time looking at yourself in the mirror. Most cold sores aren’t particularly huge, but can certainly be unsightly and do a number on your confidence.
The question being – what (if anything) can you do to avoid them?
Prevention Vs Cure
When you find yourself dealing with one or more cold sores, there are dozens of possible treatments to try out. Nevertheless, it’s borderline impossible to get rid of a cold sore as quickly and efficiently as you’d like. Even with all the treatments in the world, they have a habit of sticking around for quite some time.
All the while, hurting like hell.
The good news being that it is in fact possible to at least reduce your likelihood of developing cold sores this winter. While many tend to develop more cold sores during the winter, there’s no specific correlation between their prevalence and the season. It all comes down to the way you look after yourself and the measures you take to avoid them where possible.
If you’re continuously getting the kinds of cold sores that are having a detrimental effect on your life, it’s worth speaking to a doctor or an allergist. There could be an issue with your skin or your immune system that’s intensifying the problem.
But if you’re simply one of the unfortunate millions who suffer from painful cold sores for no specific reason, you might find the following tips and guidelines useful:
1. Avoid catching the virus in the first place
First up, if you aren’t already affected by cold sores, the best thing you can do is avoid catching the herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) in the first place. Easier said than done, but possible nonetheless. If you encounter an individual who clearly has a cold sore and therefore has the virus, you might want to avoid close physical contact with them. Not that this is particularly easy, given that the individual in question may be an immediate member of your family. Nevertheless, try not to get to close and personal with anyone who has one or more cold sores that are clearly visible. Likewise, pay attention to any other items and objects they may have contaminated, such as cutlery, cups, glasses, makeup and so on. It’s surprisingly easy to contract the herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and once you have it, you have it for good.
2. Maintain good oral health and hygiene
There’s a direct correlation between oral health and the respective individual’s likelihood of developing cold sores. This doesn’t mean that meticulous oral health guarantees you will never end up with a cold sore, but it can certainly help. Use a dentist recommended electric toothbrush and rinse your mouth regularly with the best antibacterial mouthwashmoney can buy. Keep tabs on your oral hygiene and your health in general will thank you.
3. Lead a healthier lifestyle
Speaking of which, absolutely anything that can have a detrimental effect on your immune system can and will increase your likelihood of developing cold sores. In general, cold sores have a habit of emerging when and where the immune system is unable to keep the virus under control. This is why individuals who are ill, exhausted or rundown for any reason are far more likely to develop cold sores. From smoking to drinking to too much alcohol to living a sedentary lifestyle, these are all the kinds of habits you should think about kicking if you want to avoid cold sores this winter.
4. Take care of your skin
A solid and consistent skincare regime can also be useful. This means cleansing and exfoliating on a regular basis, using a high-quality moisturiser to keep your skin supple and avoiding any harsh cosmetics. Taking care of your skin during the winter months can be particularly difficult, due to the somewhat extreme temperatures and overly-dry air indoors. Nevertheless, anything you can do to keep your skin in the best possible condition is worth doing.
5. Wrap up outdoors
Speaking of which, excessively cold temperatures and biting winds outdoors really can do a number on your health in general. Along with giving your skin a real battering, these are the kinds of exposures that can weaken your immune system. Precisely why anyone looking to avoid cold sores this winter would be well advised to wrap up and keep warm. In addition, don’t forget that even during the coldest months of the year, the sun’s UV rays can still be incredibly powerful and harmful. If you plan on spending time outdoors on a sunnier day, be sure to use sunscreen to keep you protected.
6. Avoid anyone ill
One guaranteed way of welcoming cold sores into your life is to allow yourself to get sick during the winter months. If you find yourself dealing with a cold or a bout of the flu, chances are your body will be unable to keep the herpes simplex virus under control. Hence, you might want to think about steering clear of anyone who looks like they may be suffering with a virus or illness of some kind.
7. Don’t pick or bite your lips
Last but not least, picking and biting chapped lips can be a highly harmful habit at any time of year. It’s just that during the winter months, you’re far more likely to find yourself dealing with flaky and dry skin that’s almost impossible not to pick. Nevertheless, you’ll need to demonstrate your willpower by leaving your lips alone, treating them exclusively to the highest quality moisturisers and skincare products you can lay your hands on.