We've all been there—that moment when we get back from a trip and instantly feel like we need a vacation after our vacation. Scientifically, there's a simple explanation: On long trips, people's overall health and well-being don't actually peak until the eighth day of vacation, which says a lot about the straight-up exhaustion and stress that come with travel.
Obviously, the goal is to break from routine (don't get us wrong, you definitely want to take those vacation days), but when you're thrown off your normal circadian rhythm, regular daily diet, and so on, your body's working a little bit harder to keep you in good health. Jet lag, colds, and digestion issues like diarrhea are so common, they're practically expected. But what might catch you by surprise? The tingle of an oncoming cold sore.
What is a cold sore, exactly?
These tiny pimple-looking bumps that develop on the lips and around the mouth are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1), which is different, though closely related to the virus that causes genital herpes (that's HSV-2—read up on the difference here).
The cold sore virus is incredibly common: According to the World Health Organization's estimation, as much as two-thirds of the global population under 50—that's about 3.7 billion people—have HSV-1. Many people who are infected may not even realize it because the virus can remain inactive and show no symptoms. Until, that is, a trigger activates the virus and a cold sore develops.
Why travel can trigger cold sores.
The stress of travel, fatigue from new adventures, inadequate sleep, and, really, any disruption to your normal routine can weaken your immune system. Like all viruses, HSV-1 likes to show symptoms when your immune system is at a low point. Weather conditions that cause dry, chapped, or sunburnt lips are another major culprit of cold sore outbreaks on the go.
How to prevent an outbreak while on vacation.
Some individuals are prone to cold sore outbreaks; others may only experience an outbreak once a year. Either way, there are a number of preventive measures you can take to keep your lips and mouth cold-sore-free.
- Eat immune-boosting, stress-lowering foods. As much as you can, try to maintain a wholesome, balanced diet complete with nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, and go for ingredients that help boost your immunity and adaptogens that help your body handle stress.
- Look for lysine. L-lysine is an essential amino acid that has been shown to suppress cold sore flare-ups, but our bodies don't produce it on its own. Supplements like Super Lysine+ Tablets, an award-winning formula that's been trusted in treating cold sores for as long as three decades, ensure you get the right dose of lysine for preventing cold sores, plus other powerful natural nutrients like vitamin C, garlic bulb, and echinacea for an extra immune boost. If you're cold-sore prone, start taking a tablet a week prior to your trip. Aside from a supplement, food sources of lysine include animal protein like chicken, beef, turkey, and pork, and it's also found in dairy products, legumes, and tofu.
- Give your lips TLC. Cold sores tend to strike on dry, chapped, cracked, or burnt lips—so be mindful of keeping your lips moisturized on dehydrating planes and protected from cold, windy weather and sun exposure while traveling. Super Lysine+ Coldstick is loaded with SPF 21 for sun protection, natural moisturizing oils, and skin-calming botanical ingredients like calendula.
- Stay away from foods with arginine. This is the amino acid that HSV-1 needs to replicate and cause an outbreak. Foods high in arginine include nuts, oats, pumpkin seeds, and (sorry!) even chocolate.
If you start to feel that first tingle…
Acting fast—as soon as you feel an itching, tingling sensation—will help you heal fast, and in some cases, immediate treatment can stop an oncoming cold sore from ever surfacing. Once developed, a cold sore can last up to two weeks. No one has time for that, especially on vacation.
The good news is that you don't need to rely on chemical-based formulas to treat a cold sore. In clinical studies, the herbal Super Lysine+ Ointment has been shown to cut cold sore healing time in half compared to not treating it at all—that's comparable to other products out there, but Super Lysine+ isn't based on chemicals. Even better, in one study, a third of participants who felt that first tingle never got a cold sore after using the ointment. That's one less thing to worry about on vacation—no promises on plane delays for the return flight home.