Are Cold Sores Triggered by Acidic Foods?

While everyone has certain foods they love and crave, some medical issues can dampen the party. This can be especially annoying if you regularly experience cold sore flare-ups. Having to tempt fate with your favorite soda or meal, for example, can get tiresome in a hurry.

That extra punch that comes with acidity can potentially kick your cold sore to an unwanted level. Have you ever experienced a sharp sting after eating a citrus fruit? If so, that is your cold sore biting back. Have you ever wondered what foods should be avoided when you have a cold sore?

Although learning what you should and shouldn’t eat and drink can be a task, once you have gathered the knowledge it’s with you for life. You’ll then be able to shuffle your diet and make the necessary day-to-day adjustments.

From food selections to prevention and treatment methods, we have got you covered. Do acidic foods cause cold sores?

Let’s dive in and take a closer look…

Do Acidic Foods Trigger Cold Sores?

Although the word “trigger” is likely overused, acidic foods can cause pain and halt the healing process. This is especially true if you have a cold sore scab.

While select foods to avoid will be covered shortly, acidic foods do pack a punch. If you think they provide a kick in terms of taste just imagine what they can do to a cold sore. You can potentially go from zero to 100 in terms of pain in no time.

How does this happen?

While the scab stage is good regarding a healing cold sore, acidic foods can irritate the sore. Once the scab cracks, things can escalate in a hurry. This misfortune has the potential to cause extreme pain and even bleeding.

Here is a summary of what you need to know.

  • Only HSV-1 can cause a cold sore. However, acidic foods can irritate a cold sore scab to the point of cracking. Pain, general discomfort, and prolonged healing time will likely be the result.
  • Acidic foods can irritate a blister at any time. However, the scab stage is often the most problematic.
  • Bleeding can lead to an infection. Regarding long-term issues, this can be the worst. Pain and delayed healing are never good, but an infection can introduce new issues. If your cold sore scab begins to bleed, it needs to be treated ASAP.

Foods to Avoid if You Have a Cold Sore

Before potentially expecting the worst, it is important not to get discouraged. Taking a small break from certain foods can allow your cold sore to heal. Additionally, the said break will likely be a small one at that.

While your favorite fruit juice might be calling your name, the pain from drinking it could have you weeping. To avoid a lengthy issue, some foods and drinks will have to be placed on the back burner.

Listed below are some items to avoid if you want fast cold sore healing and relief.

  • Citrus fruits. Addressing the acidic issue first, citrus fruits are likely to be ground zero. That zest from your favorite orange or lime can come at a price. The last thing you want to do is get citrus juice in a cold sore.
  • Soda and alcohol. Most beverages that have a “bite” of any variety are due to acidity. Similar to citrus, any liquid that sits on your lips can make its way inside a cold sore.
  • While most everyone loves the taste of a fresh tomato, their acidity is high. Tomatoes are incredibly juicy, and this does not bode well for cold sores. Just the smallest amount of juice could trigger a major flare up and cause extreme pain.
  • Processed foods. While this umbrella category can cover numerous items, your lip will thank you if you abstain. Simply stated, processed foods are junk. To heal a cold sore, you must first have a strong immune system. Various snacks and meats are nothing more than filler. Your body needs vitamins and minerals. Processed foods can only worsen your cold sore.

Arginine Can Trigger Cold Sores

Worthy of its own section due to its importance, foods rich in arginine can also pose a serious issue. Known as a potent amino acid, arginine can serve as a healing agent. However, this protein can worsen cold sores.

Arginine carries the potential to aid HSV-1 and not only cause it to thrive but to spread. This essentially means that certain foods can work directly against you. Quite obviously this is not conducive to cold sore healing.

It is also important to note that HSV-1 is contagious as soon as you experience the symptoms. Including arginine in your diet can not only make things worse for you but also introduce potential issues for others.

Noted below are some prominent foods that contain high levels of arginine.

  • Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Raw coconut
  • Spinach
  • Raisins
  • Gelatin

Types of foods that make cold sores worse

Foods to Eat When You Have a Cold Sore

Transitioning to the more positive side of the equation, there are several foods you can enjoy. While these foods are tasty, they can also potentially heal your cold sores.

Although there is no cure for cold sores in the literal sense, the foods documented below can help. It should also be noted that many of these items can be found in supplement form. This is important because having more options means more opportunities to heal your cold sore.

Of note, it should also be observed that the items listed below are not processed foods. The mention of cheese, for example, should be regarded as unprocessed rather than processed.

  • The first form of cold sore relief is courtesy of the amino acid known as lysine. Long since deemed a powerful cold sore healer, lysine can be consumed in a variety of ways. Most notably in tablet or capsule form as well as select foods. Apples, chicken, cheese, eggs, fish, and turkey are just a few choices to consider. You can learn more about lysine and lysine products by utilizing the search option on this site.
  • Vitamin C. While all vitamins are critical, the addition of vitamin C can act as a huge boost to your immune system. Because HSV-1 can be triggered by a weak immune system, vitamin C can keep the virus dormant. This is even more paramount if you are trying to heal an active cold sore. Regarding consumption, vitamin C tablets would be your safest bet. Supplements provide a way for you to skip the citrus burn while still bolstering your immune system.
  • Able to be consumed in a host of ways, zinc can strengthen your immune system. From foods, capsules, tablets, and even topical creams, zinc can heal cold sores. As it relates to foods, zinc is found in selections such as red meat, poultry, nuts, and grains.
  • Noted for being a plant polyphenol from the flavonoid group, quercetin can potentially prevent the spread of HSV-1. Found in apples, cherries, berries, and colorful vegetables, quercetin is a potent antiviral.
  • Helping your body to take out the trash, antioxidants are critical for healthy living. Serving to cleanse the body, antioxidants can heal cold sores and potentially reduce the risk of recurrence. Dietary staples such as carrots, garlic, and strawberries are just three of many known antioxidants.

How to Prevent a Cold Sore from Recurring

While there is no foolproof way to prevent a cold sore recurrence, there are positive steps you can take. By simply knowing your body, protecting your lips, and being aware of your surroundings, you can win the battle.

  • Avoid known triggers. Unless you just recently contracted HSV-1 and are having your first outbreak, you likely know all about cold sore triggers. Stress, fatigue, weakened immune health, etc. While paranoia will never be a winning strategy, staying vigilant will. As long as you keep tabs on your well-being, you will likely stay ahead of the curve.
  • Protect your skin. Especially your lips. Most everyone will agree that skin care is paramount, cold sores or not. The simple act of protecting your lips with medicated lip balm can work wonders. If your lips are clean and healthy, it is important to keep them that way. Always be mindful of cracks and slight areas of irritation.
  • Although specific cold sore treatments will be addressed momentarily, treatment can lead to prevention. Never let a cold sore simply run its course and heal naturally. This strategy will only increase the potential for future outbreaks. Treat cold sores when they happen.

Do acidic foods trigger cold sores?

Best Cold Sore Treatments

Excluding the obvious advice of steering clear of cold sore food triggers, there are numerous treatments available.

Well-documented and reviewed on this site, cold sore healing has never been a bigger market. Courtesy of various creams, patches, and supplements, the choices are virtually endless.

Listed below are just a few ways to heal and treat cold sores

Responsible Eating Can Heal Cold Sores

Now that you understand the pitfalls of acidic foods you can manage and prevent cold sore with confidence.

While placing your favorite food or drink aside for a couple of weeks might be difficult, it will be rewarding. Although that hint of lime in your tea will not cause a cold sore, it can worsen an existing blister. Be mindful of that example, and others like it, as you move forward.

Cold sore food triggers can be pesky. Navigate the field with caution.