In this article, I’m going to teach you about the relationship between stress and cold sores. From the ages of 15-34, I suffered from DISGUSTING cold sore outbreaks.
And in my late teens up until my mid-20’s, I would get an average of around 4-6 cold sores or more per year.
Luckily, I’ve been cold-sore-free for over four years now.
I learned how to use natural methods to prevent cold sores, and as a result, I’m much more confident and have higher self-esteem.
While there are many cold sore triggers to be aware of, it’s paramount for you to understand the relationship between stress and cold sores.
Stress is one of the TOP cold sore triggers.
This article will teach you about this phenomenon, as well as provide you with stress reduction techniques that can assist you to prevent cold sore outbreaks.
Cold Sore Overview
Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are groups of small blisters that form on or near the lips. Cold sores are a result of something called herpes simplex virus (HSV).
There are two types of HSV, and both can cause cold sores. HSV-1 typically is responsible for cold sores, and HSV-2 is most often the cause of genital herpes.
However, both types of HSV can cause cold sores or genital herpes.
After primary infection, the virus resides in the associated dorsal root ganglion (cluster of nerve cells) where it lies dormant until an external stimuli (such as stress or immunosuppression) initiate reactivation of the virus from dormancy.
The virus lives on forever, and that’s why people continue to get cold sores over and over again.
There is no cure, but with the right lifestyle changes, you can drastically reduce, or even completely eliminate cold sore outbreaks.
Stress and Cold Sores
I first realized there must be a direct relationship between stress and cold sores when I was 20 years old. I was working and going to community college, and I would get stressed out a lot.
During this time, I noticed a significant increase in the number of cold sores I would get.
And of course, having to go to school and work with a cold sore on my lip only heightened my stress more!
Once I began researching stress and cold sores, I found out the science behind this relationship.
Here is how stress can trigger cold sores:
- The herpes simplex virus lies dormant and inactive in your trigeminal nerve (ganglion).
- The virus stays dormant for some time, but then you become stressed out.
- Your stressed body releases cortisol (fight-or-flight stress chemical)
- The stress hormones weaken your immune system.
- You now have less lymphocytes to defend against the herpes simplex virus.
- The herpes simplex virus sees that you have less defense and it breaks free.
- You feel the first tingle/itch/burn, and soon after…you get a cold sore.
Two of the most beneficial things you can do to prevent cold sores are to reduce stress in your life, and boost your immune system.
How To Reduce Stress
Low stress levels make it more difficult for the herpes simplex virus to wake up out of dormancy and create a cold sore lesion.
Things that can help reduce stress are:
- Tai chi
- Epsom salt baths
- Working a job or running a business that you enjoy
- Healthy relationships
- Quality time with friends
- Personal development books, audios, DVD’s, and seminars
How To Boost Your Immune System
When the immune system is experiencing peak vitality and efficacy, this is typically able to fend off the herpes simplex virus from coming out of dormancy.
When the immune system is functioning low below the optimal level, the herpes simplex virus is more prone to “waking up,” coming out of dormancy and becoming “active,” thus causing a cold sore outbreak.
One of the main reasons people get cold sore outbreaks is because of a compromised immune system.
Herpes simplex lesions are referred to as “cold sores” and “fever blisters” because people are more susceptible to outbreaks when they have a cold or flu virus (compromised immune function).
Here are ways to keep your immune system strong and healthy:
Stress and Cold Sores Conclusion
Now that you understand the direct relationship between stress and cold sores, as well as some helpful tips for reducing stress and boosting immune function, I know you’ll be able to get less cold sores from now on.
Stress is running rampant in our modern civilized world.
Stress causes a superabundance of physical and mental health problems, including cold sores.
Thus, it’s very important to use stress management techniques on a regular basis.
If you have any comments or questions on the relationship between stress and cold sores, please post them in the comment box below.