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Cold sores are small blisters that appear in the mouth or on the lips. Some people use lysine, an essential amino acid, to help treat or prevent cold sores, but does it work?
Caused a virus cold sores, so a doctor will typically prescribe antiviral medications to help treat an outbreak. They may also recommend that a person take lysine, an amino acid found in some foods, to help treat the virus.
Lysine is essential for many bodily functions, including helping calcium absorption and collagen formation. Most people will have enough lysine in their diet for their body’s basic needs.
People who want to take lysine to help treat cold sores will likely need to take a supplement to increase their lysine intake. Read on to learn more about how lysine affects cold sores.
Lysine can help the growth of the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), which is responsible for cold sores.
HSV-1 requires arginine, another amino acid, to grow. Lysine helps prevent the body from absorbing arginine, making it difficult for HSV-1 to grow and reproduce.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, more than 50 percent of people aged 14 to 49 are carriers of the virus. Lysine can slow or stop the life cycle of HSV-1, but it cannot cure the person from the virus. Once a person has contracted the virus, he will always have it.
Lysine is an essential amino acid. The human body does not naturally produce lysine, so a person has to get it from their diet or take a supplement.
Foods that contain lysine include:
People can also use an ointment that contains lysine to help treat cold sores. People can apply the ointment directly to the painful area according to the package instructions until the infection is gone.
Lysine ointments and lip balms are available in pharmacies and online.
Most doctors agree that lysine is safe to use as a cream or oral supplement. It is important that a person follow the instructions on the package when using lysine products.
Too much lysine can cause side effects, including:
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take lysine supplements unless their doctor recommends it.
Cold sores usually go away for people with healthy immune systems within 2 weeks.
The typical treatment for cold sores is antiviral medication. Doctors usually prescribe:
- valacyclovir (Valtrex)
- acyclovir (Zovirax)
These medications are available as topical ointments, pills, or injections. Some people also use them to prevent future cold sore outbreaks.
Cold sores are highly contagious. A person is contagious even when undergoing treatment and remains contagious until all the blisters are scratched away. People with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to infections.
A person with one or more active cold sores can help prevent the virus from being transmitted by:
- avoiding intimate contact with others
- don’t kiss anyone
- avoiding close contact with someone with a weakened immune system, such as babies
- no sharing drinks or food
- do not share personal care products such as razors, toothbrushes, or lip balms
- wash their hands after touching a cold sore or the medication
- wash their hands regularly throughout the day
- don’t touch the cold sores all day
Taking antiviral medications can help prevent cold sores from breaking out.
Lysine supplements can also help prevent future cold sores from developing. A person should talk to a doctor or pharmacist about dosage and use.
Lysine supplements are available in health food stores, pharmacies and online.
Lysine is not a cure for cold sores, but it can help prevent and shorten the duration of an outbreak.
A person should continue to take antiviral medications that a doctor prescribes for their cold sores. Those interested in adding lysine supplements to their routine should talk to their doctor beforehand.