Spicy foods are proven to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and speed up your metabolic rate. Despite these health benefits, the addition of spice to your diet is believed to trigger the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) and irritate open cold sores.
The burning sensation on your lips from your favorite spicy dish could be an indication that spices are irritating the small lesion on your lip or mouth area. Yes, the same spice that adds an abundance of flavor to your favorite meals can also be detrimental to the skin on the lips.
If you have had HSV-1 for a while, you likely know what foods you should avoid. But, if you have been recently infected, it may be wise to add spicy cuisine that consists of hot peppers to the extensive list of foods to avoid with cold sores.
We will now provide more information about spicy foods and why their consumption should be reduced (or avoided entirely) by frequent cold sore sufferers. You’ll also find out what you need to know to make more informed dietary choices.
Why Do Spicy Foods Trigger Cold Sores?
Spicy foods (and spices in general) have the potential to irritate and inflame the skin of some people. The burning or stinging sensation that you may experience on your lips is an early warning sign that your body isn’t responding well to the consumption of food that is spicy. Spices and peppers can awaken HSV-1 AND make existing cold sores more painful than would usually be the case.
Whenever your lips are exposed to extreme heat, through spices, this could present a problem. Your lips are naturally delicate, so it does not take much to cause aggravation or irritation to this area of your body. Your lips can often change texture during the consumption process. Dryness and shriveling of the lips are common. You’re also more likely to develop canker sores in the mouth.
- Similar to acidic foods and beverages, spicy cuisine can lead to cold sores (or make an existing outbreak worse).
- The burning sensation around the lips and mouth area is the result of your “calmed skin” becoming irritated. While this occurrence is natural and will certainly not harm your lips in the long-term, it can be problematic for people who regularly get cold sores.
Can Spicy Foods Improve Your Health?
While spicy cuisine can lead to a fever blister, they’re also good for your health. It really is a double-edged sword.
Here are three ways that spicy peppers are beneficial:
- Chili peppers, for example, have been known to boost immune health while also fending off infection.
- Many peppers have been linked to a healthy heart and heart attack prevention. The hotter the peppers that you regularly consume, the less likely you are to experience a heart problem.
- On a similar front, jalapenos help with weight loss when coupled with exercise. It’s been found that the mix of high flavor coupled with low calories can squash your urge to consume sugary foods.
Can spices pass your lips without causing irritation? Can you avoid licking your lips? This is unlikely. Foods that might be good for your general health might be troublesome in other ways.
- While spicy foods can irritate your lips, many hot peppers can bolster your immune health. They also assist with weight loss, reduce bad cholesterol levels, and decrease the risk of having a heart attack. You must decide which is more important to you.
Spicy Foods to Avoid if You Have HSV-1
- Jalapeno peppers
- Hot pepper sauces
- Curry powder
- Spiced onions
Will Spicy Foods Always Trigger HSV-1?
Here lies the biggest mystery. The same “trigger” that causes your blister today may have no impact on another HSV-1 carrier. Even more interesting, your own triggers can change. The flaming hot pepper that caused an outbreak three months ago could have no impact at all today.
Although it is understood that certain foods should be avoided, they will not always lead to the formation of a blister. And we’ve already mentioned the health benefits of eating peppers. The risk versus reward meter should be considered. Is that bowl of chili really worth getting cold sores?
- Spicy foods can trigger HSV-1, but not always. Not everyone will be affected.
- Some known triggers can have no impact and your own triggers can change.
Foods to Eat When You Have Cold Sores
Foods that are high in lysine (and low in arginine) are important. Both amino acids, arginine is believed to activate cold sores while lysine has been shown to block arginine’s productivity. This is why foods that have a high lysine-to-arginine ratio are so critically important.
Some of these food selections include:
- Dairy milk and cheese
How to Protect Your Lips from Cold Sores
The best way to protect your lips from cold sores is to keep the lips moist and free of cuts, abrasions, and other irritants. Spicy foods, as noted, can serve as an irritant. Various types of lip balm can help with protection. Products, such Herpecin L lip balm, can provide protection. Keeping your lips fresh and avoiding dryness can go a long way.
Make informed food and beverage selections. Anything that is “aggressive” to your throat and stomach has the potential to be aggressive to your lips. This is especially true if your lips have been damaged by the climate.
- Protect your lips is with a tried-and-tested lip balm. Just a thin layer can keep your lips moist and free of irritation.
- Steer clear of any food or drink that causes irritation.
Although guaranteed prevention is a fool’s errand, it’s beneficial to learn the basics of cold sores. If you have only a limited understanding, you can still avoid many of the potential pitfalls. Simple changes to your favorite spicy meals can make a world of difference.
Pay attention to how your body responds to certain foods. If your body reacts adversely, you may decide that it’s better to remove them from your diet. You must, of course, need to decide if the significant health benefits of peppers outweigh the problems that they sometimes cause.