Cold sore flare-ups can occur for many reasons. Sometimes it’s stress, the weather, hormonal changes, etc. Sometimes, it’s not even our own habits. You can get a cold sore by coming in contact with someone who has one.
While they can be painful enough on their own, there are certain precautions you can take to reduce the pain and speed up healing. Some of these precautions include avoiding certain foods.
While different foods can’t necessarily cause a fever blister, they can make an existing one worse. Remember, cold sores stem from the herpes simplex virus. If you’re ‘feeding’ the virus, it will grow stronger, and the outbreak may be harder to tame.
However, even foods that are otherwise considered ‘healthy’ can sometimes make a cold sore worse. So, if you’re tired of dealing with the pain and embarrassment of a blister, it’s important to know what you should and shouldn’t eat.
Foods to Stay Away From During a Cold Sore Outbreak
This article will focus on several different categories of foods. These breakdowns will make it easier to know which foods you should avoid, and which ones are safe to eat during a flare-up. We will explain why certain foods can be harmful, or even trigger more pain.
A healthy immune system starts from within, and your diet can help to boost it even more. However, when you have an existing cold sore, you should be eating to get rid of it. That may include avoiding some of your favorite healthy foods for a few days.
Processed foods usually aren’t considered healthy in any part of your diet. They include things like pre-packaged snacks, shelf-stable items, foods with preservatives, etc. While they can often be tasty and labeled as junk food, they don’t do much good for our bodies. This is regularly the case when dealing with a cold sore.
Foods that have been overly-processed can make our immune system sluggish. If you consider the immune system to be a type of machine, processed foods should be viewed as some rust or sludge that causes the machine to slow down and not work as efficiently. When the general function of your immune system is compromised, it can’t fight back against the herpes virus the way it should.
The worst processed foods you can eat if you have a blister are those rich in sugar. Sugar-laden snacks can weaken your body’s ability to heal itself. The processed, refine sugar interferes with your white blood cells, making it harder for them to destroy harmful bacteria. Sugar-rich foods may contribute to making a cold sore look and feel worse.
Instead of reaching for convenience foods, try a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. These whole foods will help to boost your immune system and make it stronger in the fight against any viral infection.
While Acidic foods won’t necessarily strengthen or weaken a cold sore itself, they can make a big difference to the amount of pain that you experience, and how fast it can heal.
Acidic foods include the following:
- Citrus fruits
So, how do they impact a flare up? Their biggest impact occurs when you already have a blister. Cold sores go through stages in their short lifespan. Eventually, they will burst open and ooze. Then, they usually form a scab or crust. This is all part of the healing process. However, it is generally when the blisters are the most painful.
Consuming foods with a high acid content can irritate a blister at almost any stage, but especially the weeping or scabbing stages. If the sore becomes aggravated, the scab could crack open. Not only is this painful, but it can lengthen the healing time needed for the sore to go away. When a cold sore scab bursts open, it could also cause bleeding. This may lead to potential infection if not properly treated.
Additionally, you may want to avoid salty foods, like chips, pretzels, or even pickles. The salt will have a similar acidic effect. If you’ve ever gotten salt in an open wound, the pain is similar. Vinegar-based foods, like salad dressings, may cause similar results and irritation.
It may be difficult to avoid some of your favorite foods for a few days, especially if they are otherwise considered healthy. But, staying away from anything that is high in acidity will help you manage the pain of your outbreak, and allow it to heal properly. If the pain is always a big factor in your cold sore outbreaks, keeping acidic ingredients out of your diet can be a big help.
Foods Rich in Arginine
Arginine is an amino acid. In most cases, it’s useful for several functions in the body and has even been associated with improving blood flow to the arteries in the heart. It can also help to promote general circulation throughout the body.
However, if you have a cold sore, foods rich in arginine should be avoided. The herpes simplex virus requires arginine to run its course and thrive fully. Arginine even helps it to spread. Cold sores are extremely contagious on their own. Including an ingredient in your diet that can make them stronger will only put other people at risk of catching the virus from your outbreak.
So, keeping the amino acid out of your diet as much as possible during a cold sore can help to weaken it and speed up the time it takes to heal. It won’t necessarily make it less contagious. However, it will make it harder to spread and become worse.
Some high arginine foods include:
- Flax seeds
Which Foods Promote Faster Healing?
Just as there are certain foods you should avoid with a cold sore, there are certain foods you should include in your diet to speed up the healing process and alleviate pain whenever possible. Make sure you’re getting the right kind of nutrition to fight back against flare-ups, by including the following in your daily intake:
- Eat more foods with l-lysine. L-lysine is an amino acid that fights back against arginine. Lysine makes it harder for a cold sore to spread and grow. It also demonstrates antiviral activity. Foods rich in l-lysine include things like milk, eggs, chicken, and cheese. You can find treatments that contain lysine as a topical ingredient. But, including it in your diet can help to weaken a flare up from the inside out.
- Focusing on healthy nutrition is key to boosting your immune system. Certain foods can help with that. Our bodies need certain vitamins and various nutrients to heal properly. When we don’t have enough, it’s easy for something like the herpes simplex virus to make the lifespan of a cold sore last longer. If you already have a blister, try eating foods that are rich in Vitamin C. This essential vitamin helps to repair the skin and heal open wounds.
- Enjoy an alkaline-rich diet. Just as acidic foods can make a cold sore worse, alkaline ingredients can help to soothe it. When the pH of your body is balanced, cold sores are less likely to be severe. So, if you regularly enjoy more acidic foods, balance them out from time to time with more alkaline ingredients. Some common alkaline-rich foods include grapes, kiwi, and pineapple.
- Be sure to drink plenty of water each day when you’re experiencing an outbreak. Water can help to dilute any harmful foods you may have ingested, especially those high in acidity. A glass of cold water can also provide temporary pain relief against an open sore.
How Does My Diet Affect Cold Sores?
What you put into your body on a daily basis can affect an existing cold sore. The nutrition you choose can either make it better or worse. The right kinds of foods can help to soothe some of the discomfort associated with blisters, while the wrong kinds may cause the pain to feel unbearable.
The most important thing to keep in mind is to follow a healthy, well-balanced diet. Eat for immune-boosting power as often as possible. This will make it even harder for cold sores to flare up. When they do, it’s likely they won’t be as severe or last as long. You should be eating preventatively as much as possible.
However, if you do experience an outbreak, you may need to make several subtle changes to your diet for a few days. Eat as many healing foods as possible to soothe discomfort and remove the herpes simplex virus faster. Remember, it’s a viral infection that starts from within.
So, treating it from within is the best way to stop a severe cold sore flare up before it starts. That begins with the right kind of nutrition. But, if you’ve experienced an outbreak, you can reduce the healing time to as little as 72 hours with the Virulite Cold Sore Device.