Coldsore Catastrophe – this may be a little TMI

I must be really run down; I haven’t suffered from this many coldsores and migraines since I was a teenager. I have so many lovely new lipsticks I want to wear, but the only thing going near my lips right now is Zovirax…

Hiding until it's gone... Pretty much everything can be expressed in lolcat pictures..
Hiding until it’s gone… Pretty much everything can be expressed in lolcat pictures..

One of the biggest triggers for me is stress; but if I do have an outbreak I cannot stop feeling stressed about it, so the coldsore gets worse and spreads. Which came first; the coldsore or the stress? Are there any fellow suffers reading this? It’s not just that they look awful; they are sore, itchy, and seem to throb. I swear that when I have a coldsore, it feels like my lips are ten times bigger than normal.

Then there’s the anxiety that in my sleep I might accidentally scratch the coldsore, and then touch my eyes, or that the outbreak might be so bad it will spread onto other areas of my face. Have you ever had a coldsore on your chin, or your cheek, or your nose? I have had outbreaks so bad, that it felt as if my whole face was on fire. I have read that after the initial infection, coldsore outbreaks should become less frequent and painful, but everytime I get a coldsore I feel as if I have a bad bout of the flu; I’m tired, irritable, achey and just want to curl up under my duvet until it’s gone away.

So, this is my face right now... ūüėĀ image ¬©tishandfipsy
So, this is my face right now… ūüėĀ image ¬©tishandfipsy

In literature about coldsores there is a lot of emphasis on the fact that your coldsore will seem bigger and more noticeable to you than to other people, and to try not to feel stigmatised. ¬†I remember a coldsore cream advertisement, where a woman was wearing her motorcycle helmet everywhere, to cover up the fact that she had a coldsore; she prefered to be “that crazy lady who always wears a helmet” to being seen with a coldsore. Approximately¬†60-70% (varies across different studies) of people in the UK and US suffer from/ have suffered from coldsores, but that doesn’t make me feel any better mid-attack.

Image from boots.com
Image from boots.com

Over the years I’ve received various tips on how to prevent, cover, and get rid of coldsores; these include applying aftershave or perfume to the sore, making a salt and water paste, covering them with Vaseline, and applying witch hazel gel. Some remedies work, and some don’t.

There are numerous creams available from pharmacies claiming to stop cold sores from forming if applied when you feel that first nagging tingle, but to be honest, none of these have ever prevented my coldsore from appearing. Also, in the last couple of years my body seems to skip the “warning tingle” stage and I wake up in the middle of the night with a fully formed blister. I have always been a bit skeptical of the creams, particularly since anyone who suffers from coldsores knows that the quickest way to get rid of it is to dry the bugger out. The last thing you want to do is add more moisture to the mix.

Image from lloydspharmacy.com
Image from lloydspharmacy.com

The best over the counter cold sore ointment I have used is the Lypsyl Cold Sore Gel; it cools the burning sensation, seals in the cold sore and dries it out really quickly. For some reason this product is no longer available in pharmacies, boots or Superdrug; I was told it had been discontinued, and have no idea why. As it was cheaper than Zovirax, and it actually works. I have managed to order some from Amazon, it will take a few days to get here, but I will be prepared for my next attack!

The Compeed Cold Sore patches are a bit hit and miss in my opinion; yes they soothe the pain a bit. And they do contain the cold sore and prevent it from spreading, but they are only really successful in covering up the cold sore for the first few days. Once your cold sore reaches the huge blistering mess stage, the patch swells up into a little bubble of puss (I know it’s disgusting, sorry). Removing the patches and replacing them pops the blisters, leaving a nice bleeding sore.

Image from Amazon.co.uk
Image from Amazon.co.uk

Also, once the blisters have gone, you need to keep using the patched a few days or it will reappear; after wearing patches for a few days, when you remove it the area that was covered will start tingling and burning, as if a new cold sore is forming. The day I remove the patches I have to literally sit on my hands to stop myself from itching my lip. It is almost worse than the initial cold sore. Also, the patches are less than useless if you get a cold sore in the corner of your mouth; you have to be careful how you place them, or they will just keep coming off.

I have tried applying perfume, and making a salt paste, both work. The perfume stings like a biatch. The salt paste was my go to coldsore remedy when I was a teenager. I would literally mix a teaspoon of salt with a few drops of water and pack it onto my face, replacing it when it dried and flaked off. I would have to lie down when this concoction was on my face, but it’s not like I was in a rush to go out when I was afflicted. When I was at school I used to get teased quite badly when I had a coldsore; one lovely young man gave me the nickname “fungus face”, and this is why 16 years later, I won’t accept his friend request on Facebook.

Image from ebay.co.uk
Image from ebay.co.uk

If I do have to go out when I have a coldsore, I use a witch hazel gel to cover the coldsore and carefully apply make up on top. I did a video on this back in December, which you can find here.

Apologies if this was a little too much information for some of you; if anyone else suffers from coldsores please let me know your thoughts in the comments. Oh, another thing, in all the literature it says that coldsores heal with no scarring; my lips are covered with scars from coldsores, this is why I will choose lipstick and lipliner over lipgloss and lipstains every time. Has anyone else experienced this?

Hope I didn’t gross everyone out too badly…

Cheerio!

Stephanie

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