Expert Advice

How can I keep cold sores away?

Natural antivirals can help ward off cold sores.
How can I keep cold sores away?
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A naturopath says:  I often give my patients a topical application made with the herb lemon balm; it contains various healing components that work synergistically to help blisters heal 50 percent more quickly. Garlic is an antiviral, so taking supplements or increasing your garlic intake can help fight off cold sores. To ease pain, apply ice for 10 minutes, remove for five minutes, then apply again for another 10 minutes. You can use this method as often as you'd like—just make sure not to freeze your lip!—Cynthia Bye, N.D., naturopath based in Vancouver, Wash.

A dermatologist says: The most classic trigger is sun exposure, so it's important to protect your lips with balm. Since cold sores are caused by a strain of herpes virus, once you have one, you may want to try an anti-viral medication like valacyclovir or acyclovir. Stay well-hydrated and avoid acidic foods, and make sure not to kiss anyone or drink from the same glass while you're having an outbreak.—Jon Starr, M.D., adjunct
clinical faculty assistant professor at Stanford University

A dietitian says: Some studies show that lysine, an amino acid found in dairy products, poultry, eggs, and potatoes, may help prevent the recurrence of cold sores. Yogurt can be particularly beneficial, since it also contains natural bacteria that help strengthen the gut and boost immunity. Avoid spicy foods, which can aggravate the pain.—Pat Vasconcellos, R.D., nutritionist based in
Mashpee, Mass.

Image of lips via Shutterstock.