Cold sores (or oral herpes) are not so cute, and they always seem to appear at the worst possible time. To add insult to injury, upward of 70 percent of the general population (some estimates range as high as 90 percent) carry the HSV-1 virus that causes cold sores, but some people are asymptomatic, so it's difficult to explain to them that a virus they almost certainly have as well is causing your little problem. Never fear, though; there are lots of ways to control, cover, and prevent the little buggers. To find out how, just keep reading.
- Use sunblock. Seems simple, I know, but sun exposure is a major cold-sore trigger.
- Get some rest. Sleeplessness is another trigger. Pull one all-nighter, sure. Just don't go a week without a few good nights of sleep. (It's a good general rule, anyway.)
- Take better care of yourself during your period. Menstruation can help trigger a cold sore, so while you're visiting dear Aunt Flo, just remember to take a little time out for yourself and relax. And take a pain reliever/fever reducer — a heightened body temperature can also make cold sores appear.
- Use Zilactin ($9), or another form of benzyl alcohol the minute you feel even the slightest itch on your lip. Abreva can also help cold sores, as can prescription acyclovir.
- Don't pick at it. It's not a zit, it's a blister, so hurting yourself means it'll just take longer to heal.
- Put a cool compress on it to relieve swelling; one of these can make a big difference.
- Though this isn't a beauty issue, keep your mouth to yourself. Cold sores can be transmitted through kissing and sexual behavior.
- Invest in some Kryolan. It covers up anything.
- Wear a lip stain like Benetint — it stays on all day, and the rose color is similar to that of a blister to help camouflage it.
- Get a good green concealer, like Physician's Formula Concealer Stick ($5.50). The green counteracts the red of the sore, neutralizing the color so that it doesn't call attention to itself.
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