How to get rid of cold sores (and prevent them from returning)

woman7Do you get cold sores? Want to get rid of them naturally- and prevent them from returning? Read on to get the lowdown on this unsightly but common viral infection.


Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are small, fluid-filled blisters found on or around the lips. These are caused by the herpes simplex virus (usually HSV-1) and are contagious. (SIDE NOTE: HSV-1 typically causes sores around the mouth and HSV-2 causes genital sores/ genital herpes, though these viruses can cause sores in either place). The virus is spread from person to person by kissing or other close contact with cold sores. Sometimes, it can even spread from contact with apparently normal skin that is shedding the virus. After the first infection, HSV enters the nerve cells and stays “dormant” in a group of nerve cells called a ganglion. Cold sores tend to recur, especially under the following conditions:

  • flu, fever or cold
  • stress
  • depressed immune system
  • hormonal changes (some women find they get cold sores prior to or during menstruation every month)
  • exposure to the sun


Zovirax (acyclovir) is a common medicinal cream to treat cold sores. But what if the sores keep coming back? How can we get rid of cold sores naturally and keep the herpes virus dormant in our system (hopefully, forever)? How can we prevent cold sores from returning?

  1. Researchers have found that a diet comprised of foods high in lysine and low in arginine can limit viral replication of HSV. cheese-1972744_1920.jpgTry eating more of the following foods, which have a high lysine to arginine ratio:
    • Cheese, especially Swiss cheese, Gruyère cheese, edam cheese, Gouda cheese
    • Yogurt, milk, ice cream
    • Apples, apricots, pears, figs
    • Beets, avocado, salmon
  2. Nutraceuticals and herbs such as zinc, Melissa officinalis (lemon balm) and L-Lysine can help cold sores heal faster.lemon-balm-770051_1920 L-Lysine is a popular natural remedy for cold sores. This amino acid has been found to be effective in reducing occurrence, severity and healing time for recurrent cold sores. L-Lysine supplements can be taken as treatment or prevention. A licensed naturopathic physician can help determine the appropriate supplements and dosages for you.
  3. In traditional Chinese medicine, cold sores are considered to be a fiery, heaty condition indicative of damp heat. A TCM practitioner or licensed naturopathic physician trained in TCM can prescribe the proper herbs for your condition, and bring your body back into balance. Bringing your body back into balance from a fiery, heaty condition can prevent cold sores from recurring.
  4. One of the most common triggers for cold sores is stress, so proper stress management strategies and minimizing negative stress are key to keeping cold sores at bay. In addition, if you get a herpes outbreak every time your period comes, you’re not alone. doctor1Studies confirm that the menstrual period is also a common trigger for cold sores or genital herpes. While Western medicine offers antiviral drugs once a month for that time of the month, some women aren’t comfortable taking pharmaceutical drugs that often. It is important to treat the root cause if you want to prevent recurrence.

Dr. Ardyce Yik ND helps patients investigate the root causes for herpes outbreaks (e.g. stress, weak immune system, nutrient deficiencies, food triggers, etc.). She provides the building blocks for optimal health using natural medicine, nutrition and traditional Chinese medicine. Click here to contact Dr. Yik today.


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