Share this Story

6 Things You May Not Realize Can Trigger a Cold Sore Outbreak

Christina Marfice


Trending writer

Christina is a reporter based in Boise, Idaho. She's a veteran vegetarian, a political junkie and a huge grammar snob. On the weekends, she can usually be found binging on Netflix, playing the piano or petting her cats, Daisy and Dandelion.

You may be setting yourself up for a cold sore outbreak without even knowing it

Nightmare scenario time: You're getting ready for a big event or a date. You have a cute new outfit. Your hair is lookin' fly. Your makeup's on point. Only one problem. That little tingle you were feeling in your lip the other day? It's a full-on cold sore now, and no amount of concealer is going to cover that up.

It's possible for just about anyone to get a cold sore — according to the Mayo Clinic, a kind of terrifying 90 percent of adults worldwide test positive for the strain of herpes simplex virus, HSV-1, that causes cold sores.

While the vast majority of people who carry HSV-1 are asymptomatic and rarely, if ever, experience outbreaks, for others, cold sores can be an embarrassing nuisance that flares up unexpectedly. For those who suffer from cold sores, there are some things that can trigger outbreaks, and while some of them are unavoidable, others can be managed.

More: Almost Everyone Has Oral Herpes, Including Me

1. Viral infection

A viral infection is one outbreak trigger that can be hard to avoid. However, some things, like washing hands regularly and avoiding people who are sick, can cut down on your chances of catching a bug that could trigger an outbreak.

2. Fever

A fever is another trigger that isn't easy to control. However, like with infections, practicing good hygiene can lower your chances of getting sick, and thus lower your chances of getting a fever that triggers a cold sore outbreak.

More: 8 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Herpes

3. Stress

Stress is one trigger that can be managed. Being stressed out also wreaks havoc on our bodies in other ways, so trying to keep stress under control has benefits other than lowering your chances of getting cold sores. Try calming activities like meditation or spending time with friends.

4. Hormonal changes

Some of the hormonal changes that are likely to cause cold sore outbreaks are related to menstruation, and so they aren't easy to control. However, some kinds of birth control eliminate periods and may also help with the hormonal changes that cause some women to get cold sores when they get their periods.

More: 7 Cold Sore Myths We Need to Stop Believing Right Now

5. Fatigue

Getting enough sleep is important to so many aspects of our health. If you're experiencing cold sore breakouts, getting your full eight hours may help.

6. Exposure to wind or sunlight

Yes, exposure to the elements can trigger a cold sore outbreak. Wearing a scarf or hood on windy days or wearing a hat and seeking shade on sunny days can help.

This post was sponsored by Abreva.

Tagged in
cold sores
Follow Us

SheKnows Media ‐ Beauty and Style

New in Health & Wellness

And you'll see personalized content just for you whenever you click the My Feed .

SheKnows is making some changes!

b h e a r d !

Welcome to the new SheKnows Community,

where you can share your stories, ideas

and CONNECT with millions of women.

Get Started