Most people are well acquainted with the dreaded cold sore and know the pain of that initial itch all too well. By the next morning, you’ve woken up with an unsightly blister on your lip—just in time to lead that important presentation at work!
Cold sores have ruled your life for too long. We’ve got the best tips for treating, preventing and concealing cold sores so you’ll never have to cancel plans over a blemish or sore again.
Common triggers for cold sores
A number of environmental factors may cause cold sores to crop up. They develop more frequently in the winter due to blistering winds, extreme cold and a dry atmosphere. Outdoor elements make the sensitive skin on your lips prone to dryness and painful cracking. Harsh weather conditions not only increase your risk of a cold sore but can also cause added irritation once they’re fully developed.
Winter isn’t the only time of year that leads to cold sore breakouts, though. People spend a lot more time outside in the summer, increasing their exposure to UV rays. Extreme heat combined with sunlight can dry out your lips and decrease their resiliency against cold sores.
Another huge trigger for cold sores is stress. The stressors of everyday life can make you feel bogged down, which in turn suppresses your immune system. A weakened immune system allows the usually dormant herpes virus to reactivate and show itself in the form of cold sores. Weakened immunity also means you’re more likely to catch a cold, which is why colds and cold sores often go hand in hand.
In some cases, cold sores develop during the hormonal shifts associated with pregnancy and menstruation. Women who are prone to recurring cold sores may find that breakouts usually align with their monthly cycle.
How to shorten the life of a cold sore
Nothing can cure a cold sore, but it’s possible to reduce the blister’s lifespan. There are a handful of over-the-counter topical ointments available at your local drug store. Some products claim to shrink the healing process from 10 days down to only four! A little bit goes a long way, so be sure to dab it on gently to avoid irritating or breaking the cold sore.
Dry and cracked lips make cold sores feel even worse. While the blisters are healing, apply a moisturizing cream that contains ingredients like calamine, petroleum and zinc oxide. These key ingredients will leave your lips feeling soft and velvety smooth!
The only way to make a cold sore go away faster is by applying these products in the early stages. Pick up a healing ointment the second a spot feels numb, itchy or tingly. These products are usually ineffective once the blister is fully formed and oozing fluid. At that point, all you can do is simply wait it out.
Tips for concealing healed sores
Unfortunately, you can’t conceal a weeping, erupted blister. Attempting to do so can introduce bacteria to the open sore and delay the healing process. Plus, makeup on an open sore becomes cakey and only draws more attention to it!
However, you can apply makeup to the affected area once the cold sore begins to heal or has completely scabbed over. Also, make sure you’re choosing the right concealer. Avoid liquid concealers and go for a creamy base, instead. This consistency will give your skin a smoother appearance. Pick out two different concealers: one with a yellow tint and one that matches your skin tone. Yellow concealer neutralizes redness, while the other blends seamlessly with your complexion.
The application process is simple—stipple on the yellow concealer, then lightly dust with setting powder. Repeat those two steps by adding the skin-toned concealer on top. Remember to use a disposable applicator! Cold sores are highly contagious, even once they’ve started to heal. Throw away the sponge once you’ve finished your makeup and grab a new one for the next day.
Best steps for prevention
As with any health concern, the best medicine is prevention. Apply an SPF lip balm year round, even if you don’t plan to spend much time outdoors. Look for lip balms with a short ingredients list that’s free from essential oils and artificial fragrances. The best all-natural ingredients are cocoa or shea butter, beeswax and any type of plant-based oil. High-quality lip balms will protect you from harsh weather and the resulting cold sores!
Cold sores are temporary, but that doesn’t make them any less annoying. You can’t always prevent a cold sore breakout. However, early intervention can stop the development of painful, leaky blisters and help cold sores clear up much faster. Keep a tube of ointment handy and prepare to apply it when that tingly feeling creeps up!