In this article, I’m going to teach you about the relationship between sunlight and cold sores. Back in my teens and early 20’s, I was constantly at the beach.
Whether I was surfing, bodysurfing, bodyboarding, or just relaxing on the beach, I was pretty much always in the sun back then.
A consequence of being in the sun so much was frequent cold sore outbreaks.
Oh ya…I got cold sores all of the time back then…
Because as it turns out, there is a direct relationship between sunlight and cold sores.
Cold Sores 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.
Sunlight and Cold Sores
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation – that is – exposure to the sun, can trigger cold sore flareups.
UV strength is determined by:
- How close you are to the equator
- Cloud cover
Small amounts of UV radiation are healthy and necessary for humans to create vitamin D, however, being overexposed to UV radiation can compromise your immune system.
And a weakened immune system is one of the top cold sore triggers.
When I used to go surfing a few days a week in sunny Southern California, I would get cold sores like crazy.
TOO MUCH SUN is just not good when you are prone to cold sores.
Snowboarding and skiing on sunny days can trigger cold sores as well.
UV rays reflect from most surfaces, and some surfaces can even double the UV exposure. The extent to which UV rays reflect from grass, concrete, and soil is around 15%, whereas sand can be as much as 17%.
However, if any of these surfaces are wet this figure can double.
Water reflects around 50%, and even white foam water is 25% reflection of UV rays. But the most reflective surface is snow at around 85% reflection of UV rays.
Since I would surf so much, and water reflects around 50%, this was a large amount of UV rays I was constantly enduring, especially when I would surf between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm.
To reduce UV radiation and thus potential for cold sore outbreaks, there are many things you can do.
Here are some basic preventative measures to take:
- Try to avoid being outside between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm. This is when the UV radiation is strongest.
- Apply lip balm with an SPF of at least 15 and a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher when spending more than 15 minutes outside during peak UV hours.
- Wear protective clothing outdoors during peak UV intensity.
- Wear a hat outdoors.
Nutrition Can Help
Along with the guidelines above, there are other ways that you can significantly reduce the harmful effects of too much UV radiation.
Your diet actually has a lot to do with how easily you burn.
However, by getting enough of some targeted “key nutrients” while simultaneously avoiding or limiting certain foods and beverages, you can decrease your chances of getting cold sore outbreaks triggered by sunlight.
To avoid cold sores triggered by sunlight, consume more of the following:
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Fish and fish oil supplements are the best sources of omega-3’s for preventing cold sores. Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon oil is the best because it contains astaxanthin, a super-antioxidant that acts as a “UV radiation shield.”
- Good Saturated Fats – Coconut oil is the best saturated fat source for preventing cold sores. It helps to prevent sun damage, and it’s also antiviral.
- Antioxidants – There are many wonderful antioxidants out there, and I especially like Wild Alaskan Blueberries (the “King of Fruits”), because they have 5-10 times more antioxidants than regular blueberries.
Make sure to consume mostly organic whole foods, as well as plenty of fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats.
This will significantly enhance your body’s natural sun protection.
But along with more of the good nutrients, you also need to limit certain foods and beverages, as some can decrease your body’s resistance to UV rays.
Consume less of the following to prevent cold sores triggered by sunlight:
- Processed Foods
- Vegetable Oils
Note: You don’t have to completely eliminate these, but make sure they are consumed in moderation. It’s nice to enjoy the occasional potato chips, french fries, brownie, or ice cream, but don’t overdo it (like the guy below).
“Natural Sunscreen” Supplements
I’m faired-skinned and I turn red easily in the sun. Thus, I’ve had to learn what supplements to take to prevent too much UV radiation, sunburn, and cold sores.
The following supplements are the best I’ve found for increasing the body’s natural defense against the sun. I take these supplements daily, and if you want to prevent cold sores triggered by sunlight, you may wish to try them out as well.
The supplements I take for natural UV protection are:
- The Triangle – A stack of three supplements (called Sunrise, Nitro, and Sunset). Contains Wild Alaskan Blueberry extract, Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon oil, tocotrienols (the most powerful form of vitamin E), beta-carotene, Vitamin D3, and much more.
- Organic Matcha Powder – Black, white, and green teas are all high in polyphenols and catechins, two flavonoids that can protect your skin from UV rays. Matcha green tea powder is the strongest, containing high amounts of the most powerful polyphenol there is, epigallocatechin–3–gallate (EGCG).
Sunlight and Cold Sores – Conclusion
Does the sun cause cold sores? As you can see, there is a strong relationship between sunlight and cold sores.
I’ve endured more cold sores than I care to remember as a result of getting too much sun.
Nowadays I limit my sun exposure, try not to go out for long periods of time when the UV radiation is strongest, wear sunscreen and a hat, I eat healthily, and I take organic whole food supplements that give my body a powerful “natural sunscreen” boost.
And while it’s imperative to prevent too much UV radiation, there are many other cold sore triggers and prevention tips that need to be learned and practiced…that is…if you want to live a life free of cold sores.
If this is you, I encourage you to check out my Ultimate Guide To Preventing Cold Sores.
It’s free and has absolutely everything you need to know.
If you have any comments or questions on the relationship between sunlight and cold sores, please post them in the comment box below.