What Are the Known Cold Sore Triggers?

Millions of people get cold sores, and some of us will get them several times a year. No one fully understands why this happens, but you may just be more prone to the ‘cold sore triggers’ than others. You may be able to prevent cold sores from appearing as often by understanding the causes.

When the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) is in your system, it never goes away. It remains in a dormant state in a nerve until ‘something’ activates it. There is no medical cure for cold sores (yet) but, by learning what brings them on, you can help to keep them at bay.

The HSV-1 virus lives in a cluster of nerves by your ear called the trigeminal nerve. When it is triggered, it travels to your lip, or to wherever you get the cold sore. When it heals, it travels back through the same nerve and lays dormant until it is triggered again.

In this article, we will look at the possible triggers. That way, you ‘may’ be able to avoid a recurrent infection. We will talk about treatments that stop cold sores from getting worse. Also, we will give you advice on how to avoid getting cold sores as often.

What Are the Most Common Cold Sore Triggers?

There are quite a few known triggers, and some may surprise you. We will list them here, and give you advice on how to avoid them.


It throws your body off balance, so to speak, so your body has to work harder and is unable to relax. When you’re under a lot of stress, your body doesn’t have the ability to fight off cold sores as well. For example, cold sores often appear when you’re getting married. A way to avoid getting a cold sore due to stress is to learn relaxation techniques and to make some work and lifestyles adjustments.

Cold Weather

Your lips are constantly exposed to cold weather, so you can try covering them up with a scarf. A good chapstick can also help to protect them, but you have to remember to put it on before you go out into the cold.


When small lesions appear on the skin, it’s easier for your lips to be compromised by the virus. To avoid getting fever blisters from the sun, you should stay away from direct sunlight and use a chapstick with sun block. This will help keep your lips from drying out.


Taking a sauna can trigger cold sores for similar reasons. You are sharing a confined environment with other cold sore sufferers and drying out the skin that’s near to the mouth. This provides an easy entrance for HSV-1 to enter your body or become activated. You’ll likely find that the environment leaves you feeling run down, which is another known activator of cold sores.


Fevers, hence the name fever blister, can trigger a cold sore, as do colds and infections. In this case, there isn’t much that you can do about sickness except to treat it, or simply let it run its course. Diet and lifestyle are huge factors when it comes to determining your overall state of health.


If teens have the virus in their system, they can get cold sores several times a year, due to the constant hormonal changes. In adult women, pregnancy and menstruation are known triggers. They leave you feeling run down and more vulnerable to HSV-1.

Also, birth control pills can lead to cold sores. It’s important that you work with your doctor to choose the right type for your body. You’ll likely find that your hormones will respond differently to different types/brands.


Extreme tiredness weakens your immune system. It affects your body’s ability to fight off infection, illness, or cold sores. Talk to your doctor about things that you can do to fight fatigue. They may prescribe sleeping tablets, or advise you to change your diet.


If you bump your mouth or face on the side where the virus is located, it can be enough to trigger it. Dental work is a known cause. Again, this is one of the times that you really can’t do anything to avoid it. You just have to treat it.

Weakened Immune System

People with weakened immune systems get cold sores frequently because their body isn’t capable of fighting them off. This includes people with diabetes, cancer, HIV aids, etc. Taking a daily Lysine supplement is likely to help build up your resistance.

If your immune system has been weakened, drinking alcohol could cause a cold sore outbreak.

Start Using a Proven Cold Sore Treatment

When you get fever blisters, after the first time you know what to expect. The early warning signs, or the tingle, as it is sometimes referred. If you start treatment now, it can stop the spot from developing into a full-blown cold sore.

A treatment that is known for its ability to stop the virus in its tracks is Abreva. To read our review of Abreva, click on the link. You can also look at customer reviews on Amazon.

Cold Sore Triggers

Preventing Recurring Cold Sores

  • Use chapsticks or lip balm (with sunscreen) in the summer and winter months. This will help to protect your lips.
  • Never kiss anyone when you have a cold sore because you are highly contagious.
  • When it has healed, change toothbrushes or anything else that you put near the sore, such as razors or tweezers.
  • If you touch it, wash your hands to prevent it from spreading.

They are not only painful, but they are embarrassing. By avoiding the triggers that may cause a cold sore to erupt, you can avoid getting them as frequently. When you can catch a cold sore in its early stages, you will be able to stop it from getting any worse.

how do you catch a cold sore

How Long Does It Take for Cold Sores to Heal?

A cold sore that’s left untreated takes anywhere from 10 to 14 days to heal on its own. If you do leave them untreated, be careful not to touch them. If you get the fluid on your finger, you can easily infect another area of your lip/face with the virus.

When you can find out what triggers a cold sore, you have an advantage because you can take steps before it happens. Also, by keeping a good cold sore treatment available, such as HERP-B-GONE Cream,  you may be able to stop any blisters from forming.

They are never pleasant, but as long as you take the precautions to avoid the most common cold sore triggers, you can reduce any suffering.