My top tips to keep cold sores at bay this winter

I was known as the cold sore kid in school for a reason. Every few months, I would have an enormous breakout that would last a week or so, that would always leave me feeling insecure and uncomfortable. As time went on, I developed some techniques to keep these at bay as much as I could.

Antivirals are great when necessary, but my GP informed me that overuse of these can cause us to become immune to medication such as Zovirax, so isn’t an ideal solution.

Therefore, natural routines and remedies can be carried out to stop the spread of this pesky virus. As this time of year is always particularly bad for those who carry the virus, I thought I’d share my tips on how to keep cold sores at bay:

Bin ALL your lip balms

I know it seems like a waste, but cross-contamination is a real problem when it comes to cold sores. Wash out your lip balm containers and recycle them. Then, invest in ONE very good SPF lip balm.

Never ever share this lip balm and never ever apply it directly to your lips. Use hand sanitiser or alcohol wipes to clean your fingertip before you apply. You can also give the applicator a wipe down with alcohol when you use it to further prevent cross-contamination. Make sure that you use this lip balm as much as possible, and never let your lips get dry.

Take a high dose of Lysine Supplements

Lysine is a natural amino acid that targets the herpes simplex virus which causes cold sores. Get down to your chemist and purchase a large jar of 500mg tablets. Take two of these each day with food and eventually, you should see results. Routine is key here so you must make sure you take them every day in order for them to work. I even named my morning alarm Lysine to remind myself to take them with my breakfast!

Carry alcohol in your bag

I mean sterilising alcohol, of course. Alcohol wipes or a little bottle of sterilising fluid will also do the trick. When you eat out or drink in bars and pubs, make sure to rub the rim of your glass, mug or bottle you are drinking from. This will cover all bases because the alcohol will kill any bacteria or virus that is present and lower the risk of you picking up something.

Carry Zovirax in your bag

Purchase Zovirax anti-cold sore cream or another brand of cream that contains aciclovir or penciclovir. Buy the tube and not the pump as you can get more out of it. ALWAYS have the tiny tube on your person. Whenever you feel the teeny tiniest tingle on your lips, apply- again with a sterilised fingertip. You can also use an alcohol wipe to clean the tip of the tube after each use.

Keep your hands clean

If you really want to be rid of cold sores for the festive season, you need to be on the ball when it comes to hand washing. We touch our faces and mouths CONSTANTLY during the day. This causes a virus like herpes simplex to spread like wildfire. Washing your hands or using hand sanitiser will break the viral cycle and reduce your chances of getting cold sores.

I know this seems like a lot to think about. However, you will soon be able to enjoy the silly season without having that constant cold sore worry!


With her daughter Evie as her muse, Anna writes about mumhood and all its intersections from mental health to movies, social issues to pop culture. Anna lives in Dublin with her daughter, partner, three younger sisters and parents. She is a dreadful cook, a fair guitar player and thinks caffeine should be given as a yearly vaccine to parents - courtesy of the HSE.

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