If there’s one thing that will stop you puckering up on Valentine’s Day, it’s a nasty cold sore on your lip.
They may be small – and often barely noticeable to others – but to the sufferer they can seem huge, and very obvious.
Indeed, a recent survey found that cold sores had ruined at least one Valentine’s Day for 30 per cent of respondents, while 80 per cent had cancelled dates due to outbreaks.
The Herpes Viruses Association says the best way to avoid cold sores is to look after yourself, and those who are prone to them should steer clear of any potential triggers.
GP Dr Phil Hammond warns that exposure to bright sunlight, which can trigger a cold sore outbreak, is a particular risk for skiers at this time of year, and advises them to use a good sun block.
‘A few unlucky people seem to get frequent repeat outbreaks – sometimes triggered by stress, poor diet, lack of sleep or exposure to bright sunlight,’ he says.
‘A long-term course of antiviral tablets can deal with this.’
The HSV virus is very much a kissing disease, passed on by mouth-to-mouth from someone who has a cold sore on their face.
But as the virus is only caught by direct skin contact, there’s no need to worry about sharing cups or towels.
Not all people infected with HSV will develop cold sores as a result, say experts. In fact, only around a quarter of carriers will ever experience symptoms.
The Herpes Viruses Association has these suggestions for sufferers:
· Start treatment as soon the characteristic tingling starts.
· Apply well-wrapped ice for 90 minutes to cool the area.
· Use over-the-counter creams.
· Apply cold, used teabags to the sore every hour.
· Use tea tree oil or geranium oil to help speed healing.
· Keep the sore moist so it doesn’t crack with a dab of Vaseline.
· See your doctor for antiviral tablets if you have recurrent outbreaks.