First it get red, then that itchy tingly area puffs out! Why me????? Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus. In al likelihood, some relative of yours infected you when you were a child by kissing you at a time when his herpes simplex was infectious. The virus scooted right into your mouth and sought a hospitable host cell, probably a nerve cell that would let the virus move right in. The virus then ordered the DNA  in its host cell to make lots more viruses exactly like it. And you thought getting your cheeks pinched by great aunt so and so was bad!

So what to do?

Keep it clean and dry – if it’s not bothersome, leave it alone.

Replace your toothbrush – the virus can remain more than 7 days on your toothbrush. The only counter to this is to throw it away. Throw out your toothbrush when you notice you’re just beginning to get the virus. If you still develop the cold sore, throw your toothbrush away after the blister develops. That can prevent you from developing multiple sores. Once the sore has healed completely, replace your toothbrush again.

Store your toothbrush someplace dry – a warm moist environment prolongs the life of the virus

Careful with the toothpaste – touching your toothbrush on the end of the toothpaste tube transmits the virus, both to you and to anyone else using the tube.

Petroleum Jelly – protects your cold sore and can help speed healing – any over the counter emollient to reduce cracking and soften scabs, also add a numbing agent like phenol or camphor.

Zinc – a water based zinc solution applied the minute you feel that tingling helps speed healing.

Ice – ice it down as soon as you start feeling that tingling, it can help with the inflammation.

Protect your lips from trauma – block sun and wind exposure, it makes a difference

Perfect your coping skills – stress triggers recurrences of the herpes simplex virus. Learn to relax, exercise, meditate, breathe deeply! Practice makes perfect. Stress doesn’t cause the herpes simplex virus, but it can trigger an outbreak.