In the sixth grade, I made one mistake that caused me to get mononucleosis (AKA mono AKA "the kissing diseases") and cold sores. Oh goodness, it was embarrassing,
I was young, didn't really know much about germs, and used a stranger's lip gloss.
I know, ew.
I didn't understand what cold sores were and would often try to pop them, like if it was a pimple. That ended up with scars on my lips. They eventually calmed down and now in my 30s, the scars are not noticeable, but cold sores in general never go away. They can pop up at any time and cause blisters along my lips.
For years from middle school through early college, I'd get them every few months and feel embarrassed. It felt like they took away from any message i was trying to say or action I was doing, because of how distracting cold sores looked on my face,
I used to take things like Abreva or Carmex to help them heal quicker, but then I discovered something in college on a random forum post that helped me keep cold sores away for good.
It was a simple supplement, that when taken a few times a week, kept cold sores away. This method has now worked for me for over a decade.
How do you keep cold sores from coming back?
Start taking l-lysine supplements.
I did a little research on why it helps so I could provide some information in the blog post, and the scientific studies say the results are "mixed" for its effectiveness, but I've been using this for over ten years and know it works for my body.
Whenever I run out of my bottle of l-lysine, I get a cold sore within a week or two. It's crazy how quickly it happens, so I always have extra bottles at hand. The good news is that if I forget and started to feel a cold sore coming, then take l-lysine that day, the cold sore that was "mid-spout" would settle and go away before it got too ugly.
Now this is all just my experience and not medical advice, but let me share with you what I found online about how it works.
What is l-lysine and how does it help cold sores?
It's an essential amino acid, meaning our bodies don't whip it up naturally. We've got to bring it into the fold through our diets or supplements.
Studies like this one show that l-lysine might be a helpful because it seems to put the brakes on the virus's replication process. The herpes virus has a liking for another amino acid called arginine. L-lysine steps in, playing a bit of a game with arginine in our intestines. By taking up the spotlight, l-lysine might limit arginine's availability, slowing down the virus's growth and potentially easing the frequency and severity of cold sores.
How much l-lysine should you take to prevent cold sores?
I think it depends on the person, what your doctor thinks, and on your diet. I personally take 1,000 mg twice a week and that prevents my cold sores, however, I may also be getting l-lysine in my diet.
Which foods contain l-lysine?
Many of them!
Meat and Poultry: Chicken, turkey, beef, and pork are excellent sources of l-lysine.
Fish: Tuna, salmon, and other fish are rich in l-lysine.
Dairy Products: Cheese, yogurt, and milk contain good amounts of l-lysine.
Eggs: Eggs, particularly the whites, are a good source of l-lysine.
Legumes: Lentils, chickpeas, and other legumes are plant-based sources of l-lysine.
Soy Products: Tofu, soy milk, and other soy-based products are rich in l-lysine.
Nuts and Seeds: Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and almonds contain l-lysine.
Quinoa: This whole grain is not only a good source of protein but also contains l-lysine.
Dairy Alternatives: If you're avoiding dairy, look for fortified plant-based milk alternatives like almond milk or soy milk.
If you do eat a balanced diet and still get cold sores, consider trying the supplement route.
If you try this supplement hack for cold sores, let me know! It's been a life saver for me, so I knew I wanted to get the info out here.
Photo by Anna Avilova.